PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Just like the real game, last week's predictions didn't provide a whole lot to smile about. In the category of "Dubious Honors" Greg had the closest pick to the real score -- and he missed by a massive 43 points. Other than a few vanity picks (such as well-deserved items like 100-0 wins over Pitt) the collective misses from a week ago were the highest that we can remember.
When's the last time someone missed the final score by 58 points and stayed in the lead? It happened last week, as Patrick hung on to the top spot despite one of the worst misses in recorded history. He had plenty of company from the panel (and from the editor as well).
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: L||Season: 6-1||Pt Diff: 127|
Wait, there's a football game this weekend? Who is West Virginia playing? Pardon me while I scramble around for actual football-related information ...
...OK, still with me? Rutgers, you say? Well that makes this a bit easier. WVU hasn't lost to Rutgers since 1994. I was eight years old. I'm now old enough to have been covering Mountaineer athletics for more than five years. That should say enough.
But in the wake of the Syracuse debacle, I'll at least caution and say Rutgers has weapons to put up points (perhaps the biggest key to this game is West Virginia limiting what Mohamed Sanu can do) and a defense that plays similarly to the Orange. Still, it won't be enough.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-20|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: L||Season: 6-1||Pt Diff: 131|
Not much to say about last week's game except it was a major kick in the gut.
Reminiscent of WVU's 1997 trip to the Dome which ended in a 40-10 thrashing at
the hands of Donovan McNabb's Orange. Still to this day the loudest football
game I've ever been to.
Moving on to this week, if there is any good left in any corner of this Earth, WVU will win against Rutgers. Its just about the only sense of normalcy left for a Mountaineer fan base that has been put through the emotional ringer over the past several weeks with regard to conference realignment. Only thing for sure is it will rain in Piscataway on Saturday. It always does when WVU's in town.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-24|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: L||Season: 6-1||Pt Diff: 135|
To say I was shocked last week would be an understatement. So, it's
hard for me to even consider predicting something and feeling good
about it these days.
I do know that West Virginia will face Rutgers this week - unless somehow the Big 12 Conference gets involved or something.
West Virginia has more talent, particularly on the offensive side where the Scarlet Knights can boast only Mohamed Sanu. The Mountaineers should be able to put up points, even against one of the Big East Conference's best defenses.
The question should and will be: Can WVU stop Rutgers' offense? After what I saw last week, the answer is probably, "No." Still, I think West Virginia will probably score enough, and the Mountaineers will make an effort to play tougher and earn the win.
|Pick: West Virginia 38-27|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: L||Season: 6-1||Pt Diff: 144|
This became a big game right about the time Syracuse hit its second wheel route for a score. Frankly, if West Virginia loses another - and I don't like that it's a reality - the season is a disappointment. Not a failure, not yet, but certainly discouraging. Rutgers, as many will note, has the blueprint. But do they have the architect to pull it off?
Beating the Mountaineers, regardless of location or circumstance, has never been the Knights' strong suit, and I suppose that stays the same in this game. I have some doubts, but I can't imagine another combination of poor performances coming together again. SU seemed a perfect storm. Hope WVU can weather this one.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-20|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: L||Season: 5-2||Pt Diff: 117|
The out come of this game depends on three factors.
1. Which WVU team will show up in Piscataway on Saturday? Will it be the team that plays only a half of a game? Will it be the team that plays solid for four quarters? Or will it be the team that fails to show up at all, (see Syracuse)?
2. Which Rutgers team will show up? Will it be the team that beat Pitt by 24 points? Will it be the team that squeaked out a one point win against a 2-5 Navy team? Or will it be the team that laid an egg against Louisville?
3. Can the inconsistent WVU offensive line give Geno Smith enough time to find open receivers?
These questions will be answered on Saturday afternoon. I believe the Mountaineer front five will not be able to stop the solid Rutgers pass rush, but the Mountaineers will pull out a victory has they have for the last sixteen seasons.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-24|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: L||Season: 5-2||Pt Diff: 131|
|Who knows at this point? Just when you think everything is set up for an easy Mountaineer victory, Syracuse suddenly turns into the New England Patriots and West Virginia puts on its University of Kentucky Halloween costume. And when Mountaineer fans are ready to lift their glasses to toast WVU's new conference, everything falls apart and politicians begin to argue like their guests on The O'Reilly Factor. The best way to make predictions, though, is to stick with history, and Rutgers' against the Mountaineers isn't good. I expect the Mountaineers to bounce back strong and prove they're not going away without a fight in the Big East race.|
|Pick: West Virginia 33-20|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: L||Season: 5-2||Pt Diff: 131|
|Well... like the old Alan Parsons Project song says, " Where do we go from here?" I find myself in the same situation with this squad. What happened last Friday evening was beyond comprehension, as WVU was beaten in just about every aspect of the game. I suppose we should not be overly surprised by this, as we've witnessed this kind of performance in all but a few games this year at times. So that leaves me with the question again... where do we go from here? Educated guesses, in-depth analysis, offensive and defensive comparisons are all out the window. So I'm leaving this one up to the Lawn Dart Gods and hoping to hit the circle.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-28|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: L||Season: 5-2||Pt Diff: 131|
|The Scarlet Knights thrive on solid defense (17th nationally, allowing 306.3 ypg) and winning the turnover battle (No. 5 in the country at +1.57 per game). West Virginia can't go into Piscataway, make a bunch of mistakes and still come away with a win. But if the Mountaineers take care of the football, Rutgers shouldn't be able to keep pace with West Virginia's offense (No. 18 nationally in scoring offense at 38.3 points per game).|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-24|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 5-2||Pt Diff: 146|
|In our post-Freudian era, we often spend as much time psychoanalyzing our players and coaches as we do focusing on their task at hand and how they might accomplish it. This week, psychoanalysis may be more relevant than usual, as the absolute circus of conference realignment intersects with WVU's disastrous performance against Syracuse last week. What is this team made of? Was the Syracuse debacle a necessary wake-up call to which Geno and company will respond with strength and determination? Are these young men ready to show the Big 12, ESPN, and the U.S. what WVU brings to the table and why we are a force with which to be reckoned? Or are they as mentally exhausted as their fan base by the melodrama that has distracted us all from the actual games being played? More rides on this game than I wish.|
|Pick: West Virginia 34-27|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 5-2||Pt Diff:168|
West Virginia was exposed as a finesse football team on both sides of the ball last week. Also exposed was a lack of speed at linebacker. This doesn't bode well for WVU, except for the fact that the team the Mountaineers face just plain isn't very good outside of one player on offense.
If the effort this week isn't any better than last week's pathetic showing, it will be another inexcusable loss for the Mountaineers. Right now I'm going to give Dana the benefit of the doubt that he can get across to these guys. I still don't see anyone holding this team under 40 when they want it.
|Pick: West Virginia 47-13|