PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Andy vaulted from last to second with the best pick of the week by far, as he missed the final score of the WVU - JMU game by just seven points. Patrick takes the overall lead with a differential of 53 points, but has six pursuers within ten points of him. That's a margin that can disappear faster than a Mountaineer scoring drive.
It's tough to drop from first to ninth after correctly picking a comfortable win, but that was the fate of Jane, who fell down the standings after forecasting another offensive explosion that didn't materialize. We're sure, though, that she's happy with WVU's win nonetheless.
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 53|
The word of the week, at least from here, is "blah." That's what I think when I look at Maryland's offensive statistics. Not its scheme, of course -- Mike Locksley's coaching tenure at New Mexico may have been a train wreck, but his time at Illinois shows he can run an effective offense -- but the production has simply not been there through three games. No one stands out as an obvious game-breaker at any of the skill positions. No one is the clear "go-to guy."
Not to oversimplify things, but to distill this to its essence, a team that scores seven points against FCS William & Mary and 14 against Connecticut is not a serious threat to keep up with West Virginia. Even on an awful day offensively, the Mountaineers should be able to put up plenty of points to make this matchup with Maryland a whitewash.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-13|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 55|
Maryland has a solid defense but the Terrapins are still going to have to score some points to keep up with the Mountaineers and that may be difficult. The Terp's offense ranks among the nation's worst in rushing offense (110th), passing offense (116th) and total offense (119th) against questionable competition.
Look for WVU's defense to pick off two Perry Hills passes and register three sacks.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-10|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 57|
West Virginia rolls into this game after clubbing two baby seals and taking a week off to rest in between. Maryland limps into this game after thumping William & Mary 7-6, beating Temple 36-27 and falling at home to UConn 24-21.
The Terps are relying upon a true freshman QB, Perry Hills, who was elevated to the top of the depth chart after Danny O'Brien transferred to Wisconsin and C.J. Brown tore an ACL in fall camp and will miss the season.
But don't be lulled to sleep. Maryland brings the nation's #8 total defense into Morgantown and will not be intimidated. The Terps also sport the nation's #6 pass defense. However, they have not faced an offense the caliber of WVU's. Maryland has defended 58 passes in 2012 and allowed 28 completions for 373 yards, in three games. By comparison, Geno Smith completed 34 passes for 411 yards in THREE QUARTERS last week.
Make no mistake, this will be the toughest test the Mountaineers have faced all season. Marshall had a very nice offense. James Madison had a pretty decent defense. Maryland will be a much better physical challenge across the board, though I believe the Herd offense to be better than Maryland's.
The key is Maryland will force WVU to punt. And the small sample thus far strikes fear into me. Something has to be done about the punting, or WVU just needs to start going for it on fourth down no matter where they are.
I have a lot of respect for Randy Edsall. That actually makes this game less difficult to predict for me, because I hated that arrogant loudmouth that immediately preceded him. Sometimes that tended to entice me to dream of a RUTS game, and it always got me in trouble. I still have WVU big, but not as big as the pundits.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-24|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 57|
|West Virginia will meet its first test of the season this Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins. Or will it? Opinions seem to vary greatly on how well UMD will match up against the Mountaineers this weekend, and while I have not been impressed in the slightest withthe Terps, this is not a team to take lightly. Nor do I think WVU's coaches or players are going to do so. Maryland ranks 8th in total defense but that was against three less than stellar teams, one being an FCS team. The two FBS teams are bottom of the barrel offenses, as Temple (#113) and UConn (#118) are in the nether regions of the NCAA rankings.. Total offense for Maryland is equally as bad which leads me to believe that this is a bad team beating up on 2 other bad teams... and getting whipped by another bad team. I guess you know where I'm going with this and things look bad for the Terps this weekend.|
|Pick: West Virginia 56-24|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 58|
West Virginia should have no problem cruising to another win - its first against a BCS opponent. Maryland does have more talent than both Marshall and James Madison, but it shouldn't matter, because the Mountaineers have even more, and perhaps too much, talent on offense.
I expect a more opportunistic defense this week and that will make defensive coordinator Joe DeForest happy. Look for Geno Smith and company to have another solid afternoon and Smith to lead the way in the Heisman race for another week.
This one might get ugly late, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Terrapins find a way to keep it relatively close for a quarter or two.
|Pick: West Virginia 49-24|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 60|
Just as he did during Marshall week, one of my friends summed this game up perfectly:
"I savor each victory over these arrogant punks. This is the type of fan base that puffs their chests out when good at football, but when they're bad they make fun of you for caring about it so much all the while lauding their academics as if they are UVA, UNC, or Duke...which they most certainly are not. Once again, I hope we hang a minimum 50." Well said. And I tend to agree. In all my years of traveling to WVU football games, I don't know if I was ever treated as poorly as I was at Byrd Stadium in 2003. I'm still bitter about it, and tend to revel in a win over the Terps more than most wins. The competition this week is a bit stiffer for WVU, if only because in theory Maryland should have more talent and depth than either MU or "Madison" as JMU apparently now prefers to be called. Even still, I can't see them sustaining at a high enough level on either side of the ball to come into Morgantown and beat this West Virginia team.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-21|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 62|
|Injuries have already taken their toll on the Terrapins, which makes their trip to Mountaineer Field pretty daunting. Still, Maryland will definitely be the best foe WVU has faced to date, particularly on defense, where the Terps return nine starters from last year. Despite that, if West Virginia can just avoid big mistakes and play its game, it should be fine.|
|Pick: West Virginia 49-21|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 66|
I think Maryland is improved. The odd-man defensive front has played well, and the Terps have held their first three foes to the fewest total yards since 2004. While partially attributable to schedule, it does show an elevation in play that's a reversal from most Maryland fortunes post-2004.
The Terps problem is that West Virginia has simply improved more over the last 12 months, with its exceptional talent and playmakers. There's a clear difference in player ability, and that typically spells a clear difference on the scoreboard as well.
|Pick: West Virginia 49-20|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 73|
It's hard to take seriously a team/fan base/rude neighbor whose state song is "O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree." Add in the ugliest uniforms this side of Oregon, the disastrous coaching transition (only five games into his first season, the Washington Post was calling for Randy Edsall to be fired), the significant financial problems, and the weak fan support, and one could possibly feel sorry for Maryland. But I don't.
Those who think WVU's fans are less than gracious to visitors have never had to thread their way through the College Park, Md., parking lots into Byrd Stadium, and I've done that with a big blue & gold target on my back more times than I care to remember. Although the Terps are on hard times at present, they have been a fierce rival over the years -- and, frankly, the only legitimate long-time rival left on our schedule (Anybody out there remember Scotty McBrien? Boomer Esiason? Or, for that matter, Bobby Ross?). During the 26 years I lived in DC, beating Maryland moved right up there next to beating Pitt as one of the great joys in life. There are 15 or so Mountaineer football players from the DC-Baltimore area on our current roster, and I have a feeling they will enjoy beating Maryland just as much as I do. Pass the crab cakes and enjoy the ride.
|Pick: West Virginia 55-10|