PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Cam just missed the first perfect pick of the year, as he was just one point off WVU's 43-16 win a week ago. Matt, Jane and Andy applied all the heat Cam wanted, missing by just two, three and four points respectively.
Patrick continues to hold a narrow lead over the three other perfect predictors to date, so it's a race for points unless an upset pick comes into play in the future.
It'd be easy to throw mudballs at Bill for his miss of 23 points last week, but have to give him credit for predicting 65 points. Had WVU not slept through much of the first half against UConn, he would have been very close to West Virginia's total. However, that didn't occur, allowing Jane to escape the basement.
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 6-0||Pt Diff: 69|
The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy had been in Morgantown so long that WVU probably had to pay property taxes on it before Syracuse came to Milan Puskar Stadium and stunned the Mountaineers on Homecoming Saturday in 2010. And much like he did before West Virginia's 2011 Big East opener against UConn, Dana Holgorsen has reminded players of last year's loss to provide a little extra juice for this battle with the Orange.
On paper, West Virginia should roll. Syracuse's pass defense has been porous this season, while Holgorsen's offense tends to exploit such weaknesses with regularity. If WVU avoids turnovers and penalties, it should leave the Carrier Dome (perhaps for the last time) with the Schwartzwalder Trophy in hand once more.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-16|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 6-0||Pt Diff: 74|
Its easy for me to forget that once basketball season starts on October 15, there are still football games being played. This presents a problem when one is supposed to pick games on a weekly basis. And when the game falls on a non-traditional day and picks are due early, it can create some issues. Such was the case this week as I had to be prompted by Kevin. Hopefully he doesn't dock me any points. (Editor's Note: So long as your team wins every game by 15 points, commits fewer than five turnovers and shoots 50% from the field and 80 % from the line, we will have no issues.)
Regardless, Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers head to central New York for a Friday night for another Big East game against ACC-bound Syracuse. Kind of sad to think about the fact that this is probably the last meeting between the two longtime rivals for the foreseeable future. The good news for West Virginia is it should leave the Carrier Dome with the Ben Schwarzwalder Trophy in hand. While Syracuse has certainly come a long way from the Greg Robinson debacle under third-year head coach Doug Marrone, they also possess one of the nation's worst pass defenses. I expect the Orange to win enough games to go back to another bowl, but they won't be doing it by outscoring people. Especially this week.
Geno Smith is running away with the Big East Player of the Year race, and will certainly be joined on the first team by Stedman Bailey and perhaps even Tavon Austin or Sticks McCartney. All four will have a chance to pad some stats this week against the porous Syracuse secondary.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-17|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 6-0||Pt Diff: 90|
West Virginia should have a fairly strong test this week when it faces
Syracuse - a team that isn't as good as LSU yet isn't as bad as
Connecticut. It is just the second road test of the season for the
Mountaineers, and it's in a dome - something that could be a struggle
to get used to.
West Virginia has its best team since 2007, however, and shouldn't have any problems beating the Orange this year. Quarterback Geno Smith seems to be locked into the offense at this point, and the Mountaineers have more talented skill players than any team Syracuse has played - and, yes, I'm including USC.
Syracuse's pass defense is terrible - 112th in the country to be exact. Smith is about to break some more records, I'd say.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-23|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 6-0||Pt Diff: 94|
This game is intriguing from a location vs. match-up standpoint. The Carrier Dome is among the more difficult places to play in terms of lighting and field flatness. It has no crown, and quarterbacks used to throwing on crowned surfaces typically take some time to adjust. Add in the odd, flat lighting and the enviornment is as unique as they come in collegiate football.
The issue for Syracuse is that is hasn't yet stopped the pass effectively, and a defense that returns just four starters and rates 111th in pass yards allowed doesn't figure to slow West Virginia. The Orange will again try to play power football and keep WVU's offense off the field and, thus, in-check. It won't happen. The Mountaineers again start slow, then roll to a solid road victory.
|Pick: West Virginia 44-20|
|Andy Easton||Last Week:W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 66|
The 4-2 Orange look to win their second game in a row over the Mountaineers after an eight-game losing streak . The Orange offense has struggled this season, ranking 96th nationally in total yards, while the defense hasn't fared much better, ranking 86th in pass efficiency. Not a good combination when playing West Virginia.
Look for Tavon Austin to return a punt for a touchdown.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-17|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 73|
I'm still confident the Mountaineers will end up in the Southeastern Conference, but it could take some time. It's possible WVU could be playing with the big boys by 2013, but it may be 2012 before we have any idea what will happen. I'd rate those chances at about 50 percent. The Big 12 is a possibility, as well, but I'm feeling less and less confident about that move as days go by. I'd say the likelihood of that move is about 30 percent. A longterm home in the Big East isn't off the table, either, as much as some Mountaineer fans would like for it to be. There's still about a 20 percent chance that WVU is going nowhere, but all of this is based on little more than a gut feeling.
What? We were supposed to be predicting the game? Oh, that one's easy. The Mountaineers roll.
P.S. Enjoy your new members ACC. Maybe you can get those TV sets to come fill the stands.
|Pick: West Virginia 46-14|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 84|
Great to be back into WVU football this week after the 3 month layoff (I jest... but truthfully... it has felt like that long). The Mountaineers are starting a long stint away from home with a game this Friday at Syracuse following an off week. This game has the feeling of a good road win for WVU but that all depends on how the off week has affected this team's routine and rhythm. I'm hoping for a fast start and a sustained effort throughout with a good showing by the defense.
Bruce Irvin showed signs that he could be back to his 2010 form and the emergence of a running game should open up the field enough for Geno Smith to have another great showing.
|Pick: West Virginia 38-17|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 88|
|Syracuse used a power running game and a solid defense to upset WVU last year. The Orange aren't nearly as good in either of those areas this year. Meanwhile West Virginia's offense can put up plenty of points. To beat the Mountaineers, an opponent will have to do the same, and it certainly doesn't appear Syracuse is capable of keeping pace, even in the Dome.|
|Pick: West Virginia 38-21|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 95|
|The Cuse faithful are allegedly riled by Oliver Luck's assertion that Navy/Air Force will bring more to the Big East than the Orange. Although we're mixing citrus fruits here, I suspect our AD was just trying to make lemonade from the great big heaping lemon that the Syracuse/Pitt departure for the ACC laid on the BE. And so, faithful readers, what tailgating beverage could we make from Syracuse Oranges and BE Lemons? This is not a rhetorical question. Please post your suggestions on our message boards at BlueGoldNews.com.|
|Pick: West Virginia 45-20|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff:108|
I'm sure everyone thinks this game should be in the bag. Everyone thought so last year too.
This is a game WVU should win handily. But Doug Marrone teaches one thing, and one thing only. Physical football from the opening kick to the final gun. WVU will have to match that physicality with their offensive and defensive lines. If they do, this game won't be much of a contest.
If WVU allows Syracuse to dictate the tempo of the game, as it did last year, and as UConn did for the first half of the last game, this will be much more sticky than the 11th-rated team in the country should see.
I don't see anyone in this league holding WVU under 40. So I don't see this as a close game. But if the WVU defense can't get off the field, and the offense stumbles with limited possessions, it will be a fight.
|Pick: West Virginia 51-17|