PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Patrick took last week's top honors, missing the final score of the LSU contest by 16 points. That's usually not enough to win the weekly prize, but score picks were all over the map. Chris managed to hold onto the overall lead, but there are now just four panelists with perfect 4-0 records to date.
Four pickers predicted a Mountaineer win, but it's hard to level criticism when going with the heart. Bill gets some special notice for a whopping 36-point miss, which plunged him into a last place tie.
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 4-0||Pt Diff: 40|
I've had enough "exciting games" for one week.
Why don't we just call this game what it is: "The Hangover". Win or lose last week against Louisiana State, this game was always going to be an emotional letdown for West Virginia, sandwiched between the biggest non-conference game of the year and the Big East opener. Luckily, trying to beat a hangover on a Morgantown Saturday is nothing new. Trust me. And it tends to be easier to do as the day goes on, so the 3:30 kick could alleviate some of the symptoms.
Bowling Green is solid, and I expect them to compete in the MAC. They'll put up some points, but not as many as West Virginia. I'm calling for a breakout day from Ivan McCartney. Something like 7 catches for 130 yards and a long touchdown.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-25|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 4-0||Pt Diff: 46|
Talent won out last weekend, as LSU had the best player on the field (Tyrann Mathieu) and made plays on defense and special teams that WVU simply couldn't match.
The same will hold true this week. This Bowling Green team is skilled and has the potential to be amongst the better teams in the Mid-American Conference. But West Virginia showed last week, even in a 26-point loss, that it has the horses to compete with just about anyone in the country. The Falcons simply won't have an answer for a WVU offense that is showing signs of rivaling Dana Holgorsen's squads at Oklahoma State, Houston and Texas Tech -- if its players can ever get out of their own way and stop making costly mistakes. The Mountaineers won't have to punt enough for Bowling Green's massive advantage in that particular statistical category to matter.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-17|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 4-0||Pt Diff: 65|
This Bowling Green team, rolling in as the Homecoming sacrificial lamb, is a bit better than perhaps most Mountaineer fans are crediting. The Falcons have a decent line and an excellent quarterback in Matt Schilz, who has the sixth most passing yards of any FBS signalcaller (Geno Smith is third, behind two other Dana Holgorsen pupils). And since West Virginia has recorded just one sack this season and has allowed the opponent to score first in every game, there isn't much reason not to anticipate some early success for BGSU.
As Greg Hunter often notes, talent usually trumps in any contest, and one would reason the Mountaineers relatively have too much of it. But create another special teams and turnover quagmire like last week, and there's no question this quality MAC foe has enough ability to keep it interesting. Add in WVU's 843 combined yards allowed in the last two games, and it would appear the home team will need to outshoot the visitors. This ones closer than expected…until the fourth.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-24|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 4-0||Pt Diff: 69|
West Virginia shouldn't have any problem with Bowling Green this week
as long as the Mountaineers were able to switch their focus from the
LSU game to BGSU.
That may be easier said than done for a predominately young team, but we'll see what WVU is made of mentally early on Saturday.
I expect quarterback Geno Smith to come out with redemption on his mind for having a record-setting performance last week but still missing two key open receivers that would've led to touchdowns vs. LSU. Another record-setting day might be in store.
It took until this point of the season last year for Dana Holgorsen's offense to shine. I think it's about that time for WVU's to rip apart an opponent.
|Pick: West Virginia 53-20|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: L||Season: 3-1||Pt Diff:50|
|This Bowling Green team is better than most think. The Falcons won't go down without a fight. But West Virginia's offense seems to be finding stride. Geno Smith throws for four touchdowns, and WVU, much to the surprise of may, tops 100 yards on the ground. Don Nehlen has to send a letter of apology to his former school when his grandson catches his first collegiate touchdown.|
|Pick: West Virginia 43-20|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: L||Season: 3-1||Pt Diff: 52|
Well, it's over... it's in the past, as some would say.
Next up is the last non-conference match-up of the year with the Falcons of Bowling Green -- a game that the Mountaineers cannot take for granted. Lose the turnover battle and play poorly on special teams again, and heads may indeed explode in Morgantown and elsewhere from Mountaineer faithful around the country.
We're into the fourth game of the season and there are still a lot of unanswered questions concerning this squad. Two of those may get answered -- with the potential emergence of Dustin Garrison at running back and a ramped up defensive unit, that currently ranks among the bottom of the national rankings in sacks. I look for win number four on the year.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-20|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 3-1||Pt Diff: 55|
|WVU has to be careful in this game. Coming off an emotional contest against LSU, the Mountaineers can't overlook Bowling Green. The Falcons certainly appear good enough to spring an upset if WVU comes out with a lack of focus (as it did in the first half against Norfolk State). Still, this is a game West Virginia should win going away.|
|Pick: West Virginia 42-17|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 3-1||Pt Diff: 57|
Looking at the numbers I just don't see how Bowling Green has a realistic chance to beat the Mountaineers. Although the Falcons are 7-5 against Big East foes and 3-1 for the year, their wins have come against Idaho, Morgan State and Miami (OH), which have a combined record of 3-11.
The question will be if West Virginia will just throw their helmets on the field and expect to win or if it will come in with the fire and intensity to put the Falcons away early.
|Pick: West Virginia 52-13|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 3-1||Pt Diff: 68|
Bowling Green State University from the Mid-American Conference comes to town this Saturday sporting a 3-1 record, and should be 4-0. The Falcons come to town sporting the nation's #21 total offense, three spots ahead of WVU. BGSU is scoring 38.5 points per game and racking up 468.5 yards per game. The Falcons have scored at least 27 points in each game and actually average 42 points in their three wins.
The Mountaineers, on the other hand, showed some weakness on defense this past week. Granted it was LSU, but the Mountaineers had no answer for runs between the guards nor passes on 15-yard outs. This is something I did not anticipate, but beginning with the second half of the Maryland game, this has become a concern.
The offense, on the other hand, appears to have answered almost every question about it going into the LSU game, except a productive running game. And even the running game was improved rushing for 3.16 yards per carry versus its season average of 2.73. The Mountaineers aren't trying to run for 200 yards per game, so the rushing rankings of yards per game won't be nearly as important as yards per carry.
The passing game? Well, lets just say we've never seen anything this good in Morgantown. Not even the 1998 squad with Marc Bulger, Amos Zereoue, David Saunders, Shawn Foreman, Khori Ivy, Pat Green et al. In fact Geno Smith is but 445 yards from the 10th best passing SEASON in school history. Stedman Bailey needs one catch to match his season total of 2010 which was fourth on the team. Offense does not appear to be a concern, and they're not clicking on all cylinders yet.
This is the ultimate trap game. WVU is coming off an emotional week, facing what is now the nation's number 1 team, in the coveted 8 p.m. slot on ABC with ESPN's first ever College GameDay visit to the Mountainlair. And next week starts the conference slate with two straight games against teams who prevented WVU from winning the conference outright last year. This will be a test of this young coaching staff as well as the mental toughness of this young football team. This game should be blowout city in Touchdown City. But you can't just show up against what looks like the MAC's best team, and expect them to lay down and cash a check.
|Pick: West Virginia 55-27|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 3-1||Pt Diff: 81|
Thank you, Mountaineer Nation, for your excellent showing at ESPN Game Day and the LSU game. Take back two or three plays and . . . but regrets are futile. One lesson we learned from the LSU game, however, is that this team has the ability to play with anyone if it can keep the mistakes to a minimum. All we have to do is focus on the task at hand and this season could play out very nicely.
That starts with Bowling Green, which may not necessarily be a cupcake. Hopefully this week's special teams adjustments will be sufficient to handle the nation's leading punter -- or at least get WVU better field position than last time. Focus, gentlemen, focus.
|Pick: West Virginia 52-17|