PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Patrick moved ahead of Chris by four points in the overall standings, and it's a two horse race at the moment. Tony and Matt remain the only other pickers with a clean slate, but they trail Patrick by 21 and 32 points, respectively. Andy took home weekly honors with a six-point differential on the Bowling Green game -- the only selector to miss by fewer than double digits.
Greg was the only selector to put WVU at fewer than 42 points this week, but he wasn't far off with 38. Bill is going all in with a score of epic proportions.
Chris' 24-point miss dropped him out of the overall lead, but that shouldn't prove to be a fatal blow. WVU's rapid scoring pace is making it a bit more difficult to narrow down scores, which causedfive misses of 20 points or more last week.
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 5-0||Pt Diff: 60|
It seems like ages ago that UConn was the newly-minted Big East champion and getting ready for a Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. The Huskies lost their best player (Jordan Todman) and their head coach (Randy Edsall) in short order after that loss to the Sooners. And now, the defending league champions whimper into conference play at 2-3 overall and coming off a home loss to Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. The two wins are over Fordham and Buffalo, the latter only a 17-3 decision.
Dana Holgorsen insisted UConn could be 5-0, and he's right. The losses (to Vanderbilt, Iowa State and the aforementioned Broncos) have come by a combined 13 points.
But none of those three teams are world-beaters. So it's been a rocky start to Paul Pasqualoni's return to the Big East. And though Johnny McEntee is finally looking like a quarterback capable of finding success in games -- and not just "trick shot" YouTube videos -- there's no reason to expect Connecticut to find its stride against a West Virginia team that is showing signs of becoming a juggernaut.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-20|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 5-0||Pt Diff: 64|
West Virginia enters Big East play seemingly getting better every week. For conference opponents, that's not a good thing. Already one of the nation's most potent scoring and passing offenses, Dustin Garrison's coming out party last week made it evident that, if you sellout to take away the pass, Dana Holgorsen and Co. are more than happy to run the ball down your throat.
Speaking of Garrison, him and short-yardage back Shawn Alston are the best backfield duo since Coach Eric Taylor's Dillon High Panthers were steamrolling teams with Smash Williams and Tim Riggins.
As for this game, there was a time when I feared Paul Pasqualoni-coached teams back in the mid-90s at Syracuse. Unfortunately for Coach P, Donovan McNabb's not walkin through that door. Quinton Spotwood, Rob Konrad, and Kevin Johnson aren't walkin through that door. This one belongs to the Mountaineers in a big way.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-21|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 5-0||Pt Diff: 81|
I pick the SEC!
Oh, you mean the game ... OK ...
For about the sixth game in a row, it seems like the talk around West Virginia football is stuck on anything and everything but the game. Alas, there will be one on Saturday, and the Mountaineers will win again.
Connecticut is a bad team - and that's putting it about as nicely as I can without creating some bulletin board material. WVU is the favorite to win the Big East Conference, and I'd say the Huskies are likely one of the worst teams in the Big East.
The talent gap this year should shine through. Last year when the Mountaineers lost to the Huskies in East Hartford, Conn., WVU's offense had no identity and struggled with turnovers. Expect that to change this year.
WVU's offense could easily put up another 600-yard performance. Whether that happens, I still expect the Mountaineers to win convincingly.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-23|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 5-0||Pt Diff: 92|
|At least 35 points. More than 400 yards. A solid, balanced attack via the air and ground. If West Virginia doesn't make a mess of special teams or fumble, it will roll in this one. Feeling good here.|
|Pick: West Virginia 42-17|
|Andy Easton||Last Week:W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 63|
|Going into the sixth game of the season, the Paul Pasqualoni-led UConn Huskies look for their first win over a BCS team after wins over Fordham and Buffalo. While the Huskie offense has struggled at times, the defense has been solid and has kept UConn in games, with three losses by an average of 4.6 points. Unfortunately for UConn, they just don't have the athletes to stop WVU's productive offense.|
|Pick: West Virginia 45-17|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 72|
Sorry UConn. This isn't women's basketball – yes, we beat you in men's, even though you won the big prize – and bringing in Paul Pasqualoni didn't suddenly put Donovan McNabb and Dwight Freeney in Huskie uniforms. I don't care what Dana Holgorsen said in his press conference. This UConn team is simply not very good.
Oh, and this West Virginia squad isn't the one that fumbled its way to defeat last year, either. The Mountaineer offense is starting to become what WVU fans hoped they would see when Holgorsen became the double-secret coach-in-waiting in early December.
Yes it's "The Black and Blue Big East" opener, and yes Mountaineer Field was about as intimidating as Chuck E Cheese last week against Bowling Green, but this team isn't looking for excuses. It's searching for wins, and it will find another one against the Huskies.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-16|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 75|
|This will be the Big East opener for both schools, and for their new coaching staffs. Setting the stage with a good league start is vital for each, just as last year's outcome proved huge to both programs and the conference race overall. WVU's high powered passing attack can generate plenty of points, and the rebuilding Husky offense should have trouble trying to keep pace, as long as the Mountaineers can eliminate the special teams gaffes.|
|Pick: West Virginia 38-24|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 75|
Revenge? Payback? Hardly, in my opinion. Sure, it would be nice to even the odds with a win this weekend against last year's loss to UConn, but that defeat can be attributed to not only what UConn did to win the game, but what WVU failed to do as well. A new coach, two new coordinators and a largely different squad and scheme from last year's UConn squad, plus a less than stellar showing on offense this year does not bear much in common with last year's loss.
By all accounts, WVU is seemingly starting to hit a stride in the offense and there are signs of improvement on defense. I look for some surprises on special teams this weekend as the Mountaineers handily beat the Huskies.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-20|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 85|
|Connecticut's pass defense is rated 83rd in the country. Connecticut gave up 479 yards passing to Western Michigan. The Mountaineers aren't happy about losing to the Huskies last year. Geno Smith breaks seven school records and four receivers go over 100 yards.|
|Pick: West Virginia 65-17|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 91|
The sun will be shining, the leaves turning bronze and yellow, the Blue Lot will be full of tailgaters, all the talking heads will complain if every seat isn't full, and we still won't know whether WVU is going to the SEC.
Oh, you wanted a prediction about the football game. Gino settles into a regular 250 or so, Tavon runs one back, Steadman and Sticks put on a show, and Dustin Garrison goes for 150. The defense continues to improve. If Holgs can get the special teams fixed, this could be fun. And Paul Pasqualoni goes home relieved that this is the last time he ever has to bring a team to Morgantown.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-14|