Fearless Picks: Forecasting the West Virginia - Youngstown State Football Game

Everyone came home with a win last week, and no matter the outcome this week every panelist will again be tied at the top -- or the bottom -- of the standings. That makes point differential important this week as we look at the selections of our august group of predictors.

Mountaintop Picks...

Greg jumped out on top with a miss of just eight points, and Matt was right behind with a differential of only 13.

...And The Valley Below

Really, there are no dings to hand out this week. Chris and Brian Jolliff were at the tail of the pack with point differentials of 28 and 25, respectively, but that is by no means awful. And, of course, they got the win, just like everyone else. This competition, like WVU's season, is just underway.

Greg Hunter
Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 8
Though an FCS team, the Penguins are still good enough to cause concern. While they were 5-6 last year, that was their first losing season since 2010. And with 14 starters back, Youngstown State has enough veteran talent back to worry WVU a bit. Still, the Mountaineers have faced better FCS opponents in recent years, and have always managed a victory, usually convincingly so. West Virginia shouldn’t struggle much. If it does, that’s a really bad sign for the next 10 games.
  West Virginia 43-21  
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 13
There's being a storied, successful FCS program, then there's doing it at the major college level. West Virginia is 13-0 all-time against FCS foes, and just twice have those games been decided by less than 20 points. The Mountaineers have more talent, speed, skill and ability nearly across the board, not to mention the added depth of 85 scholarship players. This one should't be close, but it might be for a couple quarters, especially if Skyler Howard is limited. Watch for Youngstown State to anchor down behind the power run game, while also getting the tight ends involved to limit risk and keep the clock moving. Bo Pelini has made his mark defensively, and the Penguins will likely try to mimic Missouri and keep a shell over the top via a two deep, then try to match-up in the run game to at least slow the Mountaineers. WVU should have too much skill and ability up front to be bothered by this; keep an eye on the ground game and if it's eating up sizable chunks. If so, the rest should come easily as YSU is forced to bring additional help in the box, opening the vertical threat. Nobody on that side can match Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante in a footrace, and that's largely what it will become.
  West Virginia 40-20  
Brian McCracken Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 21
West Virginia enters its match-up against Youngstown State as a heavy favorite and rightfully so. In the Dana Holgorsen era the Mountaineers have dominated FCS schools, going 5-0 and averaging a score of 43-11 in those games. Although this is a good Youngstown State team with a good head coach I don't see the end result being too different from that score total. I think we see a game plan that features a heavy dose of Justin Crawford and Rushel Shell as the Mountaineers will try to limit the number of hits Skyler Howard takes, but I also think the Mountaineers take some shots and get Jovon Durante and Shelton Gibson more involved in the passing game this week. The Mountaineers will be too much for the over-matched Penguins and William Crest and Chris Chugunov will get the better part of the second half to redeem themselves for last week's performance.
  West Virginia 49-16  
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 21
After an impressive win against Missouri, WVU looks to stay undefeated against a solid FCS team. WVU will have too much talent and depth for the Youngstown State Penguins. Maybe the Mountaineers will have a chance to find a capable replacement if QB Skyler Howard goes down.
  West Virginia 35-10  
Jonathan Martin Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 22
The Mountaineers host Youngstown State this weekend and the question for me is how they will respond after playing an SEC team in week one. I don't question the eventual outcome - but how we arrive there is another story. I expect YSU to slow the game down and kill clock. However, the WVU defense looked excellent against the run last week. The slowdown won't hurt WVU. Another big week from the offense, and the Mountaineers are 2-0 on the season.
  West Virginia 35-17  
Jeff Cobb Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 22
Youngstown State will attempt to play the ball possession game and keep the clock moving. Look for short and intermediate passes sprinkled in with a myriad of rushing attempts from the Fighting Bo Pelini's. Normally I would expect YSU to play deep cover much like the Missouri defense did to prevent the long ball from the Mountaineers, but Skyler Howard's rib cage injury might have them considering playing a little more run support since they won't be expecting him to be able to air it out and take advantage of those situations. West Virginia's defense -- a major concern heading into this season -- looked pretty decent against Missouri, the starters allowing only a FG. However, the Tigers were pretty anemic on offense last season so do we really know how this defense will hold up yet? There is also the inevitable let down after opening with an SEC opponent and moving now to an FCS foe. All things considered, I do expect this to be a relatively low scoring ball game. I also would no be surprised to see a close score at halftime. But at the end of the day, I see no way that YSU will be able to hang with West Virginia for the entire four quarters and pull the upset.
  West Virginia 33-16  
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 25
Every time a game like this pops up on the schedule, we all collectively think back to Appy State and Michigan a few years back. Even though the particulars are different, there is a well-coached, highly successful FCS team coming to town Saturday, so I think we all have that momentary double take when people ask for a prediction. I certainly did, but it quickly passed. Youngstown will put up a fight early, but WVU's depth and strength will ultimately win out.
  West Virginia 45-14  
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Point Differential: 28
WVU looked solid in the week one opener against Mizzou. The defense, for the most part, was better than expected. While the offense didn't hit as many big plays as some fans would have liked, it moved the ball consistently and had great balance against a Tigers defense that sold out to take away the deep ball. In week two, FCS foe Youngstown State comes to town looking to control the game on the ground and take away big plays in the passing game from WVU. It won't be enough. The Penguins are out of their element in this one.
  West Virginia 41-10  

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