Fearless Picks: WVU - Louisville

A tightening race in the year-long picking derby means heightened importance for the selections for our crew each week.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Tony took top honors last week, missing the final score by just seven points and moving into a tie atop the standings. Were it not for the Maryland miss, Andy would be in the lead, but as is he holds an edge over the 6-2 record crowd.


NOSE PICKING

Bill missed last week's game by 24 points to sink deeper into the cellar, but his entertainment value to this feature makes him a permanent fixture. Kinda like what John Marinatto hopes the Big East is to the BCS.


Tony Dobies Last Week: W Season: 7-1 Pt Diff: 142
West Virginia got back on track against Rutgers, even if the defense was absent for the first half. The weather conditions weren't easy to overcome. In fact, this team deserves some praise for being able to handle it as well as it did in addition to being down by 10 at the half.

The second half of that game could mean a lot to the confidence. Remember that halftime talk by reserve cornerback Brantwon Bowser at the end of the season. It might be a season-changer.

I expect the confidence to continue, and the Mountaineers to beat Louisville this week. Head coach Charlie Strong touted his defense this week. Surely that's a bit of motivation for Geno Smith and crew to do some damage.

They will, and the defense will hold steady against an average Cardinals' offense.

Pick: West Virginia 35-17
 
Patrick Southern Last Week: W Season: 7-1 Pt Diff: 142
If nothing else, it should be fun watching a Dana Holgorsen offense go up against a Charlie Strong defense. It's like the age-old question: what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Though this year's WVU offense isn't quite "unstoppable" and the Louisville defense isn't "immovable" either, both are still more than respectable. One unfortunate casualty of West Virginia's impending move to the Big 12 is that we won't get to see how those battles would have played out in the years to come.

But for this year's match-up -- perhaps the last for the foreseeable future in what was, just a few short years ago, a burgeoning rivalry -- WVU's experience at key positions and the Cardinals' relative youth (plus the fact that this game comes in Morgantown) turns this match-up in favor of Holgorsen and company.

Pick: West Virginia 34-17
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 7-1 Pt Diff: 145
I remember driving back from Rutgers, ironically, with Cam Huffman several years back and the two of us lamenting the ongoing lovefest between West Virginia and Louisville fans. It was bu...well, it was sickening for lack of a better term on a family friendly website. Thankfully, the mutual pleasantries began to die down, a rivalry began to evolve, and now here we are with the fervor at an all-time high as we approach what will likely be the final game between these two schools for some time.

West Virginia's gutty comeback win at Rutgers was the kind of game that can make or break a season, especially coming on the heels of the disaster at Syracuse a week earlier. I expect the Mountaineers to soar on Saturday, playing at home for the first time in nearly a month. Louisville's defense is very good, but West Virginia's offense is better. Central Arkansas alum and former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has resurrected the U of L program quickly, and a win in Morgantown would be another step forward, so expect the Cards to play well...just not well enough.

Pick: West Virginia 38-24
 
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 7-1 Pt Diff: 162
Some might be pull back on the point totals for West Virginia, what with Louisville's decent defense and WVU's inability to put together four quarters. I'm going the other way. This is the week the Mountaineers put together a reasonable all-around game and stomp the Cards. Good weather, a home crowd and a couple sub-par road games should both motivate and serve the home team well. The match-ups also seem decent - if the odd stack can get off the field.
Pick: West Virginia 48-20
 
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 134
The message boards have been busy with Louisville and West Virginia banter about the Big 12 and the upcoming game. It seems as though the Cardinal fans are confident that the stingy U of L defense can slow down WVU's fast-paced attack. After all, the Louisville defense has held each of their eight opponents to less than 26 points, with Alabama being the only other team in the nation to do so. But a closer look will reveal that the teams that Louisville have played have an average rank of 80th in the nation in total offense. West Virginia ranks 13th in total offense.

It will be Cardinal fans seeing red on Saturday.

Pick: West Virginia 35-20
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 144
This weekend's showdown between WVU and Louisville looks to be a heated one if you look around the message boards this past week. From jilted feelings of being left on the outside of the Big 12 looking in (for now), real or fabricated past fan experiences, the run on D cells in Morgantown, UFT's (unidentified flying trashcans) and cheerleaders fearing for their safety, it all seems a bit over-blown for a non-conference match-up.

I have no doubt that this will be a good contest and I don't put much, if any, stock in the Internet-driven tensions surrounding this game. The coaches and players pay little to no attention to it, and just want to play football and compete. With WVU returning to Morgantown for their first home game in almost a month, in what looks to be a perfect weather day for football, the Mountaineers will be rolling to a comfortable victory.

Pick: West Virginia 48-17
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 148
Louisville isn't a team that scores many points (113th nationally in scoring offense at 17.6), and it has scored more than 17 points just three times (24-17 win over Kentucky, 21-9 win over Murray State and 27-10 win over Syracuse). Meanwhile, WVU has been held below 34 points just twice in ‘11, though it should be noted each of those came with a loss – 47-21 vs. LSU and 49-23 vs. Syracuse. An average game for each leads to a WVU win.
Pick: West Virginia 31-21
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 150
OK. I'm convinced the Mountaineers have their mojo back, although the ticket sales don't indicate that the fans will join them. Louisville, like Syracuse earlier this year, will come in ready to play and will perhaps be more motivated than the Mountaineers. That will make this game closer than it should be, but, in the end, an improving Cardinal offense still isn't good enough to keep pace with WVU on a field free of ice and snow.
Pick: West Virginia 40-35
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 157
So much drama! So many nasty message board posts! Lawsuits and Cardinals and Bears, oh my! What a wild, wild week it's been. Both Louisville and WVU will enter Mountaineer Field on Saturday with chips on their shoulders. Both are angry about perceived slights and attempted kidnapping related to conference realignment. The big difference will be that WVU will have its band, cheerleaders, mascot, and 60,000 screaming fans hoping to send Louisville on its way for the last time (at least the last time in the Big East).
Pick: West Virginia 42-17
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff:192
Louisville is playing stellar defense this year, having not given up more than 25 points in any game this year.

That sounds real good. However, a look at the opponents shows that the offenses the Cardinals have faced aren't exactly powerhouses. Murray State (FCS), Kentucky #115 in scoring (loss), Florida International #77 (loss), Marshall #102 (loss), North Carolina #44 (loss), Cincinnati (loss), Rutgers #60, Syracuse #64.

West Virginia currently sits at #13 nationally.

Louisville's offense won't exactly scare anyone, even a Mountaineer defense that seems to be more than charitable lately.

Pick: West Virginia 41-16

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