Picks and Pontifications: WVU - Maryland

The score picks are so close, we'd suspect collusion were the integrity of our panelists above reproach. How do they see the border battle between West Virginia and Maryland shaping up? And which prognosticator falls out of line with the others?

The picks of the first two weeks were unanimous, but what does week three, with a near-even matchup with Maryland on the slate? Our courageous crew offers their selections after a pair of warm-up weeks.

WINNING SELECTIONS

Jane took the lead in the standings with a miss of 19 points in the Towson win. Usually, such a number is only good for a middle-of-the-pack finish, but WVU's shutout defensive performance and higher than expected point totals let many predictions a good distance away from the 54-0 final.


HOPE YOU DIDN'T BET THIS PICK

Pretty much all of them other than Jane. The misses ranges from 26 to 40 points, shuffling the standings a bit. Andy, last year's champ, remained in the cellar, but four other predictors are only a touchdown away from claiming the bottom spot.


Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 27
I always have a special need to beat Maryland. I lived in Washington D.C. for many years, and as a loyal Mountaineer, attended a number of WVU vs. Maryland games in Byrd "Stadium." While I won't go into detail in this venue, let's just say that I developed a healthy dislike for Maryland "fans," and rejoice in their vanquishment. It will be especially entertaining to watch The Pride show the Twerps what a real college band looks like. I expect the football team to live up to The Pride's example.
West Virginia 28-24

Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 30
Both teams, as senior associate head coach Tom Bradley noted, return most of their players. That doesn't, however, mean a duplicated performance. Maryland is as loaded as it has been since the early 2000s, when Scott McBrien and Steve Suter - who will both call the game this weekend for different media outlets - among others, bullied WVU for four straight games, including a pair of crushing defeats in the same season via a rematch in the Gator Bowl.

The Mountaineers flipped that for the remainder of the decade, and the early portions of the Dana Holgorsen era, before getting ripped last season. That won't happen this time, but I remain concerned about West Virginia's short yardage run game, its ability to punch in from inside the five-yard line and its placekicking, which has left just a touch to be desired over the first 120 minutes of play. Add in Maryland's experience, its talent at wideout and a defense allowing just 12 yards per game, even against JMU and USF, and there are issues. Weather could also be a factor, though not likely to the degree it was last season. The game's at Byrd Stadium always seem a bit closer than they should be, and this one will come down to the wire. Even as I type this, I'm still not sure which way to go. I'll stick with my initial preseason prediction in getting the Mountaineers to six wins and a bowl game.
West Virginia 30-27

Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 33
History tells us that the outcome of the WVU-Maryland game is huge in predicting 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 beaten UM. Conversely, WVU has missed a bowl in 16 of the 24 years it has lost or tied the Terps. This year’s meeting at Byrd Stadium appears to be just as vital to West Virginia’s postseason hopes.
Maryland 31-30

Tony Dobies Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 36
West Virginia will get a bit of redemption on Saturday after last year's beating, but it will take big effort and - unlike a year ago - the Mountaineers will have to be able to hold on and show some character late in a game. This team seems ready to record a statement win, and this Saturday's game will be a solid opportunity for that. The key: How will WVU's offense play in the red zone? If most drives end in touchdowns, there won't be much to worry about; but settle for field goals (or nothing), and the Mountaineers will be going home disappointed after playing the Terps once again.
West Virginia 30-24

Michael Carvelli Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 37
This is West Virginia’s chance to make up for last year’s embarrassing 37-0 loss at the hands of the Terrapins, and the Mountaineers seem to be playing with an amount of confidence that this program just hasn’t had in a few seasons. The key to this one for WVU is going to be winning the turnover battle and capitalizing on those opportunities in order to turn those turnovers into points. Much like the rest of the games from here on out, this game will come down to which team is tougher and will be able to make enough plays and close the game out.
West Virginia 34-27

Roger Harvey Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 43
Defensively, the Mountaineers will have their hands full. Containing Stefon Diggs and Deon Long could pose problems. Watch UM quarterback C.J. Brown as well; the dual threat QB is not afraid to use his feet to pick up yards. Last week, Maryland only put up 24 points on a USF defense that was historically bad just a year ago, but don't be surprised if this game turns into a shootout. UM has the weapons to score against any defense, and has the skill to beat this Mountaineer squad, again.

In the end, WVU continues to roll with their generated momentum, and pulls out the second win of the season.
West Virginia 41-31

Jonathan Martin Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 43
Am I crazy to think West Virginia’s season could hinge on this week's contest versus Maryland? Sure, the Terrapins aren’t the toughest team the Mountaineers will face this year. However, this game likely determines their fate moving forward with a matchup versus the nationally ranked Oklahoma Sooners on the horizon. To add more, West Virginia was embarrassed last year in a 37-0 blowout.

This is a different WVU team, though. I expect the Mountaineers to once again use a steady rushing attack, the deep threat of Kevin White and revenge on their minds to sneak past the Terrapins.
West Virginia 31-27

Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 45
Maryland is playing at home. They have a number of playmakers. They're heading in the right direction. But I'm taking West Virginia. I like what I've seen from this team the first two weeks of the season. Clint Trickett has been very accurate, and is clearly poised for a big senior season now that he's settled into Dana Holgorsen's offense. The defense might not be the '96 D, but they're certainly better. I like what I've seen, and I'm excited about what's to come.

Also, Maryland football has nothing to do with the Star-Spangled Banner.
West Virginia 31-27

Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 48
Maryland. I remember the Maryland game from last season and it still gives me the shivers. The Mountaineers bus into their second road non-conference game of the season with a seemingly improved team. I am still hesitant to peg what kind of squad WVU has this year, but I feel the Mountaineers match up much better this season in this border state rivalry. Let's face it... Maryland is the replacement Pitt. Although it currently calls for a 50% chance of rain Saturday, WVU should be able to skid out of Byrd Stadium with a win
West Virginia 31-24

Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 50
This Mountaineer team is starting to convince me that the program is back on the rise. After a solid performance against Alabama and a stellar win over Towson, WVU should be full of confidence heading to College Park for the game against Maryland. To earn a win over the Terps, the WVU defense must try to corral UM's explosive wideouts, while the offense will need to find a consistent running game behind new found workhorse Rushel Shell.
West Virginia 31-24

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