Fearless Picks: WVU - Texas

Last week's win has at least a few predictors jumping on the Jane Donovan bandwagon -- or is it the magic of a night game at Mountaineer Field?

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Jane takes time to bask in the sun, as she was the only panelist to select the Mountaineers over TCU. Whether it came from her head or her heart (we suspect the latter), she stands alone in the spotlight.


NOSE PICKING

It's not hard to see how everyone else picked TCU last week, but the 0-9 showing isn't going to burnish anyone's analytical props this week. However, we can say that no one predicted Oliver Luck to Texas.


Andy Easton Last Week: L Season: 7-2 Pt Diff: 196
The Texas Longhorns make their first trip to Morgantown on Saturday looking to extend a five game winning streak that has landed them at the top of the Big 12 standings. This could also be viewed as a must win for Texas, as it has three ranked teams left on the schedule (OSU, Texas Tech and Baylor)

The Mountaineers snagged a much needed victory in Texas last weekend but will have to increase their level of play by several notches to compete with the Longhorns. Morgantown is a tough place to place and night games are always more electric, but I don't think the Mountaineers have the horses to hang with Texas.

Pick: Texas 37-17
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: L Season: 7-2 Pt Diff: 217
Texas is better and more talented. They'll win the game, but man I wish I could be there. First of all, it will be a great atmosphere. Night games at Mountaineer Field always are.

More than that, though, I wish I could be there to honor my favorite WVU team of all-time. The '93 Mountaineers weren't the most talented team the school has ever had, but they were the toughest. I wish I could be there in my Robert Walker jersey to stand and applaud.

Pick: Texas 31-28
 
Michael Carvelli Last Week: L Season: 7-2 Pt Diff: 233
West Virginia is going to be in for another close game this week when a hot Texas team comes into town. The Mountaineers picked up some confidence from their win last week, but they're going to have to play a much better game for all four quarters in order to take down a Longhorn team that has looked completely different since it started Big 12 play.

In the end, I think it's a close game, but the Mountaineers have trouble coming away with the win.

Pick: Texas 31-23
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: L Season: 6-3 Pt Diff: 235
The question still remains as to whether the WVU offense can be productive enough to beat an opponent without the defense forcing multiple plus territory turnovers.

It does appear that the defense not only found its confidence against TCU, it also found an identity. No longer content to play a soft zone, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson unleashed the hounds vs the Frogs with much success.

Texas is on a five game win streak, having scored at least 30 in every win this season, and no less than 21 in any game. The Mountaineers can win this game by being physical, running the football and forcing Texas to bring their safeties down to stop Sims and company and give space to Shorts, Alford and Kevin White room to make plays.

I'll go with heart over head this week

Pick: West Virginia 34-27
 
Tony Dobies Last Week: L Season: 6-3 Pt Diff: 245
I'm not convinced WVU can limit its mistakes against a much more talented squad on a roll like Texas. But, I wouldn't be surprised if the night game atmosphere and crowd at Milan Puskar Stadium helped the Mountaineers come out firing. Texas will own the fourth quarter.
Pick: Texas 31-21
 
Jon Martin Last Week: L Season: 5-4 Pt Diff: 227
I'm not sure a prevailing, overtime win over an inept football team has rejuvenated a program, but last week's survival against TCU has done something for the Mountaineers. It was a win everyone needed if there's any hope of salvaging this season.

A different animal arises this week, however. Texas, undefeated in Big 12 conference play and 6-2 overall, rolls into Morgantown.

The Mountaineers will try to build on their momentum from last week. Expect a heavy dose of Charles Sims in the run game and quarterback Clint Trickett having one of his best games of the season.

Pick: West Virginia 27-24
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 5-4 Pt Diff: 229
WVU's win over TCU was good for everyone's morale -- players, coaches, staff, fans, everybody who wears gold and blue. This week's opponent, Texas, will be a bigger challenge, but home game, Saturday night, Mountaineer Week, decent weather, and improved confidence should help.

In keeping with my theme of recent weeks, the song lyric of the day is "Together we're gonna go out tonight and make that highway run." (Bruce Springsteen, "Rosalita," 1973). If you're reading this, you need to be in Morgantown this weekend. Otherwise, you will kick yourself for missing it when the Mountaineers eke out a narrow win over the favored Texans.

Pick: West Virginia 31-30
 
Matt Keller Last Week: L Season: 5-4 Pt Diff: 245
The Longhorns are playing better defense than they have at any time in the last three years. The same could be said for West Virginia. The difference? A program still stocked with NFL-caliber talent against one rebuilding after significant losses. WVU keeps this close in the night cold, but even without Luck, Texas will simply have too much ability.
Pick: Texas 30-20
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: L Season: 5-4 Pt Diff: 247
Unless the travel and/or possibly cold weather adversely affect Texas, it's hard to foresee a path to a Mountaineer victory. The Longhorns are always as athletically skilled as any team in the country (see the 35 UT alums currently on NFL rosters), and after a slow start to the season, Texas seems to be finding its stride. West Virginia gained confidence in the win at TCU, but the Longhorns' overall talent makes them a different breed.
Pick: Texas 31-24
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: L Season: 5-4 Pt Diff: 254
I'll give credit where credit is due and freely admit I did not think this football team had the will to pull out a win against TCU. This weekend we have our first night game in Morgantown of the season... in fact the only non-noon game of the season.

After last week's unexpected victory, I'm inclined to stay on the home team's side this weekend. Hopefully this team can build off of the confidence, coming off of their first road victory of the year, and the excitement of playing a big night time game in Morgantown will lead to a win.

Pick: West Virginia 34-31

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