Picks and Pontifications: WVU - Texas Tech

Last week was an excellent one for our panel, and not just in terms of picking the winner of the WVU - Kansas game. This week, things might get a bit tougher.

WINNING SELECTIONS

With all ten panelists selecting the Mountaineers, last week's picks came down to point differential. CJ led a parade of picks close to the final score, as he missed the 33-17 final by just four points. Andy (five) and Tony (seven) were also under single digits, with the latter riding that selection to the overall lead.


HOPE YOU DIDN'T BET THIS PICK

No demerits to hand out this week as the largest miss was 20 points, with the rest in the teens. The panel has been very good in coming close to final scores, and as a result the overall standings continue to be very close.


Tony Dobies Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Point Differential: 75
Texas Tech isn't very good this season (not Kansas bad at least), so West Virginia should be able to win this time in Lubbock. Don't expect the Red Raiders to struggle much on offense, but they will have trouble stopping the Mountaineers' offense. The offensive playmakers should all have good games. If Tech keeps it close, watch for a WVU special teams play - blunder most likely - to determine the outcome.
West Virginia 41-28

Michael Carvelli Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Point Differential: 78
This is a West Virginia team that is playing with a lot of confidence and has been battle tested so far this season. Tech will be the Mountaineer defense’s first really difficult test in the passing game, considering how quickly the Red Raiders try to play and how much they tend to spread things out, but I think at the end of the day - as long as the Mountaineers can minimize the number of miscues in special teams - the WVU offense will do enough against a struggling Texas Tech defense to come away with this pretty important win on the road.
West Virginia 41-31

Jonathan Martin Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Point Differential: 84
Given the Red Raiders' 2-3 record one wouldn't think this was a must-win game for West Virginia. However, that's precisely the case. The Mountaineers are caught dead in the middle of determining the direction the remainder of the season goes. And with nationally ranked Baylor looming just one week ahead, a solid performance in Lubbock is needed.

There's very litle doubt the Mountaineers will score points in bunches, but can the defense control a Texas Tech offense that averages 470 yards per game? With all things equal WVU needs a solid outing in special teams.
West Virginia 42-39

Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Point Differential: 87
This is as massive a game as could be expected in terms of bowl hopes for both West Virginia and Texas Tech. For the Raiders, 2-3 on the season and losers of eight of 11, a fourth loss would all but doom them to a .500 record at best with teams like Baylor and Oklahoma still to come. For the Mountaineers, this match-up in Lubbock represents the first of four Big 12 road tests, of which most pundits predicted WVU must split in order to position themselves for a 6-6 or better season. The road team here has more talent, and is executing on a higher overall level, and both teams have made glaring mistakes at times. I'll take West Virginia, but it had better finish in the red zone and bring crisp special teams play and defensive tackling in this one.
West Virginia 38-30

Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Point Differential: 88
I didn't get to see a single play of WVU's win over Kansas on Saturday as I was canvasing the cornfields of Iowa looking for future Mules. But what I heard about the defense was encouraging, even if it is Kansas. Anytime you force 14 punts in a game, you've done your job as a defense. What worries me, though, are the continued special teams blunders. It's going to cost them a game if it doesn't improve. As a former boss used to preach, "Do not accept in victory what you would not accept in defeat."

Texas Tech is a team struggling to find itself from the outside looking in. Its only two wins were a late escape against Central Arkansas (a solid FCS program but not one that should come in to Lubbock and nearly win) and a narrow victory over UTEP. The Red Raiders' three losses have all been by double-digits, including a pasting at the hands of Kansas State last Saturday night. Simply put, this is a game West Virginia should win and must win if it wants to start talking about 7+ wins. The Mountaineers have been the more consistent team to this point, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt in this one.
West Virginia 38-34

Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Point Differential: 107
The Red Raiders have struggled so far this season on defense, allowing 40 points per game, while the offense has had mixed results. If the Mountaineers can win the turnover battle they will gain their first victory over Texas Tech since the 1937 Sun Bowl. Look for the combo of Trickett to White to scorch the Red Raider secondary.
West Virginia 42-31

Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Point Differential: 70
This meeting figures to be a classic Big 12 shootout, as a pair of high powered offenses face off against questionable defenses. While the points will probably be ticking off with great regularity, eventually one defense or the other is going to make a play or two, which will ultimately decided the outcome. WVU’s defense hasn’t been great this year, but it has made more plays up to now than Tech’s.
West Virginia 39-36

Roger Harvey Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Point Differential: 72
Last time West Virginia visited Lubbock it took a beating. With the combination of a porous defense and terrible wind that afflicted Geno Smith’s passing ability, the Mountaineers could not find any consistency. This time around, the game should be different. A weak Texas Tech defense should make for a fine toss-around session between Trickett, Alford, and White. Expect Trickett to have another 400-yard day, but it will still be a close game. WVU has a chance to get some attention with a big road win and will win its second game in the state of Texas since joining the Big 12.
West Virginia 42-38

Jane Donovan Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Point Differential: 77
That was one great first half of football last Saturday against Kansas. The Mountaineers do an excellent job of starting a game, but when will they learn to finish? In the immortal words of Derek Jeter, "The last thing you want to do is finish playing and wish you had worked harder." Jeter finished with grace, elegance, and a single in his last at bat.

It's only four quarters, not nine innings (or, for that matter, 18 innings if you're a Nats fan), and the men in Gold and Blue need to play all four of them with equal vigor and focus. In the immortal words of that great 21st century American philosopher, Shaquille O'Neal, "It's not how you start the date, it's how you finish it, sir." Yes, we're mixing sports metaphors this week, but I used all the best Van Halen quotes in my predictions last year.
West Virginia 31-28

Brian Jolliff Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Point Differential: 108
WVU faces a much more difficult task this weekend on the road against Texas Tech than it did last week. Even though the Mountaineers go into Lubbock as the favorite, this could be a close game in a hostile atmosphere even if WVU plays well. If the special teams snafus continue, this game could get out of hand and turn ugly if Tech is given too many opportunities. I'm banking on the Gold and Blue to hold things together and squeak out a win in a trademarked, heart-stopping, frantic game-ending tradition.
West Virginia 30-27


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