PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Jane holds on to the overall lead after a week that showed some outstanding selections. Five panelists missed the final score by ten points or less, led by Chris, who was only three points way from nailing it exactly.
Bill took the booby prize again with a 31-point miss, which has put him at the bottom of the board with an ever-increasing point differential. He has a good point in this week's commentary, but he'll need to finish a game ahead of everyone else in order to win the season competition unless he starts getting within the same universe with his point predictions.
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 51|
|Maryland threw down the gauntlet this week by dissing The Pride. It seems that the University of Maryland is one of very, very few, perhaps the only FBS school that does not comply with the normal policy of offering on-the-field performance time to the bands of visiting opponents, and the management the Baltimore Ravens stadium apparently went along. If you've ever attended a game at Byrd Stadium and seen the Marching Twerps or whatever they call themselves, you might realize why this policy makes sense. However, since the Pride will not be permitted to school the Maryland band, the football team will have to take up the slack.|
|Pick: West Virginia 24-21|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 53|
Both Maryland and West Virginia are somewhat of an enigma at this point in the season. The combined record of the teams that WVU and Maryland have defeated is 3-11, with two of those wins coming from William and Mary.
The WVU defense did play well against Oklahoma but the Sooners are anything but an offensive juggernaut. With proven play makers, Stefon Diggs, ex-Mountaineer Deon Long, and C.J. Brown on their side I must give the edge to the Terrapins.
|Pick: Maryland 27-21|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 56|
It never fails. I cannot begin to tell you how many times in my life the Maryland game has ended up being the barometer that forecasts what's to come for the Mountaineers. And for this particular West Virginia team, Saturday's game is one of a few (home games against Texas and Texas Tech being the others) that could go a long way in determining if a bowl game is in the cards for this season.
Maryland looks to be quite improved in Randy Edsall's third year. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has the Terrapins hitting on all cylinders early in the season. UM ranks 21st in rushing offense, 28th in passing offense and 10th in total offense. The Mountaineers are 31st in total defense. On paper it looks like a good matchup.
At the end of the day, though, I have to give the edge to Maryland. Right now I'm just not comfortable enough with WVU's offense. The Mountaineers are going to have to score some points to leave Baltimore with a W, and I haven't seen enough consistency from the offense yet to be convinced that can happen.
|Pick: Maryland 27-21|
|Jon Martin||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 57|
No disrespect to Oklahoma, but Maryland is likely to be a tougher task for West Virginia.
The Terrapins can beat you in several ways -- with athletes scattered all across the field. The Mountaineers will need to rely on the running attack of Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith and hope quarterback Ford Childress is capable enough to lead them.
The game appears to be a tossup. I'm just not sold West Virginia is better now than we all expected them to be this season. It'll be close, but Maryland survives.
|Pick: Maryland 27-24|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 61|
|This is a very important game to gauge where West Virginia is against a similar team. Maryland is no more talented than WVU, so it should be a close contest throughout. In the end, the Mountaineers' running game will be the difference.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-27|
|Michael Carvelli||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 62|
In a game that will be very close from the start, the lack of consistency from the West Virginia offense through the first three games this season make it kind of difficult to pick the Mountaineers. Maryland has been known for sending a lot of pressure, and with an inexperienced freshman quarterback facing his first real test of the season as well as an offensive line that has struggled at times, the Terrapins will come away with this one because they will be able to make a few more big plays than WVU will Saturday.
The Mountaineer defense will have difficulties stopping Maryland quarterback CJ Brown who is always a threat to run for more than 100 yards while also possessing the ability to sit in the pocket and feed the ball to playmakers like Stefon Diggs and Deon Long in the passing game.
|Pick: Maryland 31-27|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 69|
This is perhaps the swing game of the season, one that will boost West Virginia to a solid start, or doom it to a likely 2-3 beginning, perhaps worse, with zero wins of any consequence. It's tough to make hard and fast judgments about this Terrapin team because their slate thus far has consisted of a below-average FIU team, a down squad from Old Dominion and a UConn team 0-2 thus far, with a 33-18 loss to a stout Towson team.
There's no question UM has looked better this season that at any time in recent memory. It's allowing just 96.7 rush yards per game, but its front seven returns just one starter. The secondary and receivers can play, and both those units should test a WVU team that hasn't proven it can effectively throw the ball, or slow a reasonably skilled, multi-faceted offense. This is the game on the early slate, one which the Mountaineers must have. Disclosure: Even I'm not sure if this pick is with my head or my heart. But this much seems sure. Lose here, and the season is well on its way to over before it begins.
|Pick: West Virginia 30-24|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 75|
Last week went pretty much as expected aside from not fully understanding how poor Georgia State's offense really was. Childress did fairly well for his first collegiate start, but this weekend's game with Maryland will be a much better bellwether for WVU's fledgeling quarterback and the offense in general.
No doubt that this game will be a big step up in competition, but what do we really know about this Maryland team? They've beat up on 0-3 mid-major FIU and 1-2 FCS Old Dominion, as well as beating UConn... which is 0-2... and lost to Towson. While I'm not sold on UMD's great improvement this year, I'm not 100% sold on what direction this WVU squad is headed in either. But I think there will be enough gas in the tank to squeak out a win.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-24|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 77|
|Historically, the West Virginia-Maryland game has been a huge barometer for the Mountaineers' fortunes. The last 12 times WVU has defeated the Terps, it has gone to a bowl at the end of each season, and since 1980, WVU has gone to a bowl in 17 of the 19 seasons it has defeated UM. Conversely, WVU has missed a bowl in 15 of the 23 years it has lost or tied the Terps. This year appears to be just as vital to West Virginia's postseason hopes. A win over Maryland is critical if WVU wants a 13th game this season.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-24|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 3-0||Pt Diff: 80|
It is said that the biggest improvement a team makes is from game one to game
two. Well, for the Ford Childress version of the WVU offense, Maryland is game two.
Maryland's much improved offense might just be the toughest test the Mountaineers have faced thus far, but that isn't saying much considering Oklahoma's QB situation and, well, Georgia State. Mountaineer receivers were able to get open at Oklahoma all day. The running game has proven to be more than just mere window dressing. This will be Maryland's toughest test as well. I'm going with Ford Childress hitting those open receivers, and the Sims and Smith show pounding the rock while the defense continues to do more than enough to win ball games.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-23|