PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Everyone foresaw more points than the Mountaineers scored against William & Mary, but Jon was the closest, and holds the Week One lead with just a ten-point total differential. All of the score picks of 38 Mountaineer markers led to a big logjam in the middle of the pack.
Matt and Brian bring up the rear after forecasting a point production total of exactly twice West Virginia's actual output, but it's still early in the season.
|Jon Martin||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 10|
West Virginia may be wearing all white on Saturday -- but I have a feeling they'll be seeing a whole lot of red.
The Mountaineers struggled last week in their season opener against William & Mary and limped to a 24-17 win, though I believe they answered several questions about their team. The biggest question now, however, is can they survive a night game in Norman, Oklahoma.
The good news for West Virginia is they're catching Oklahoma early in the season. The Sooners themselves have several questions marks, too. Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight struggled to complete only 39% of his passes against Louisiana-Monroe last week, yet managed three touchdowns and 103 yards rushing.
Is West Virginia's defense improved enough to shut down Knight? Is West Virginia's offense talented enough to put points on board against a stout Oklahoma defense? Questions remain -- and results will soon be shown. The view from here says no to both.
|Pick: Oklahoma 37-24|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 17|
|West Virginia is too young of a team with too many questions that still need to be answered to win this game. That, however, doesn't mean that the Mountaineers will get blown out. The Sooners aren't unbeatable by any means.|
|Pick: Oklahoma 34-20|
|Michael Carvelli||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff:18|
|If West Virginia loses Saturday to Oklahoma, it won't be because the Mountaineers don't play well. WVU could struggle with OU freshman quarterback Trevor Knight, who is always a threat to pass or tuck it and run, and a talented group of skill players. If the WVU offense can put points on the board, this could be a much closer game than a lot of people are expecting, but in the end the Sooners will be too much.|
|Pick: Oklahoma 38-21|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 19|
I never like to focus on the negative. There has been a surfeit of hand-wringing in anticipation of WVU's game at Oklahoma, so I will focus on the most positive thing about that game, one that never disappoints or fails: The Pride of West Virginia. Did you know that the band left Morgantown at 4:15 a.m. on Thursday, travelling by bus? They drove to St. Louis on Thursday, and were hoping to meet a couple of St. Louis-based WVU alumni for a visit Thursday evening, then on to Norman, OK Friday morning. They'll be loading up the buses immediately after the game on Saturday night and driving straight through to Morgantown, hopefully arriving in time to get to their classes on Monday morning. Pride, thank you for representing the Blue and Gold with such dedication and professionalism.
I think this game will be closer than the hand-wringers fret, but I'm breaking with my long-time self-imposed protocol with this week's pick. Nick O'Toole keeps the Mountaineers in the game and the defense begins to gel.
|Pick: Oklahoma 24-21|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff:21|
|WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen may have been holding back last week against William & Mary, but it was still evident that the Mountaineers are not ready for prime time. The Blue and Gold will have a difficult time with Oklahoma's talent, speed and atmosphere.|
|Pick: Oklahoma 35-10|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 21|
WVU played a pretty vanilla game last week. Whether that was some sort of masterful piece of strategy to keep Oklahoma in the dark, or whether that is all this vastly inexeprienced offense could hand;e remains to be seen.
The Mountaineers were greatly improved on special teams, and the defense appeared better. Though there still looks to be some holes in the pass defense, the run defense and tackling were much better.
I question whether an Oklahoma team, no matter its talent, which only throws for 85 yards against ULM can really take advantage of what WVU doesn't do well. I really don't know which way to go here, but I'll give the Sooners the nod with the home field.
|Pick: Oklahoma 27-24|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 21|
|Usually you think pass first when it comes to Oklahoma, but this year the Sooners' strength figures to be their ground game. If WVU can slow that down, it has a chance, but that is going to be a tough task. West Virginia's offense likely can find some cracks against a rebuilt OU defense, but it will probably be tough to find enough of those cracks to defeat a talented Sooner squad that rarely loses at home.|
|Pick: Oklahoma 38-27|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 21|
For the first time in more than 30 years, the Mountaineers will be making the trip to Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plain). The last time WVU was in Norman, Don Nehlen and company came away with a program-changing victory over Barry Switzer's Sooners.
Unfortunately for Mountaineer fans, that memory will have to suffice for this week. West Virginia struggled on both sides of the ball in the lidlifter against William & Mary, escaping with a 24-17 win over a team that won all of two games a season ago...in the FCS. Oklahoma, meanwhile, shut out ULM behind an impressive ground game.
Even though WVU's run defense is good, I don't expect the Sooners to be as ground-oriented in week two as they were in week one. They'll test the Mountaineer corners early and often. That's a matchup that will prove to be bad news for the gold and blue.
|Pick: Oklahoma 34-21|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 27|
Not much can be taken from an uninspiring performance last Saturday in WVU's thin victory over William & Mary. Aside from surrendering a few long pass plays which accounted for over 100 yards of offense for W&M, the defense seemed to show improvement. A turnover did not help the Mountaineers, with one leading to a score on the short field from the WV 34.
Not much was shown from the offense or defense last Saturday, but that will not be the case this weekend as the Mountaineers take on Oklahoma. We all know what happened on the last trip to OU, as Jeff Hostetler and WVU were put on the college football map with a surprising and rare victory in Norman. I remember that game in 1982 as I listened to Jack call the game over the radio and had no expectations of winning the game. I contest that this years chance's at victory are as unlikely as the were more than 30 years ago, but sadly... I don't see it happening.
|Pick: Oklahoma 34-24|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 27|
Oklahoma has a mobile quarterback capable of making plays via the ground and air. West Virginia has the beginnings of a solid ground game, one which could serve for better ball control and the ability to slow the game. Both teams' offensive strengths seem to target the defensive weakness of the other. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Oklahoma has more experienced talent - but it's better to play this group now, with redshirt freshman QB Trevor Knight coming off a game in which he threw for three scores, but completed just 11 of 28 passes for 86 yards.
WVU must showcase better defensive discipline - it got beat on play fakes multiple times in the opener - and get solid numbers and angles to the ball while tackling well. Pair that with solid special teams and an advantageous offense, and this contest will be closer than the approximately 20-point spread. Oklahoma is expected to be better, but I expect some fight out of the Mountaineers.
|Pick: Oklahoma 31-20|