Fearless Picks: Forecasting the West Virginia - BYU Football Game

The records remain perfect, so point differentials continue to be the difference-makers as we head into our selections of West Virginia's third game of the 2016 football season. Does anyone think BYU can come east and ambush the Mountaineers in Maryland?

Mountaintop Picks...

Matt has one of the best starts in contest history, missing the first two games by the low total of just 16 points after being just three points off the youngstown State final. That's not enough for first place, though, as Greg's offset of just five in the YSU game puts him at a season differential of 13. That's a high performance bar to keep up.

...And The Valley Below

Once again, our panel has been excellent in scores as well as winners, but keeping pace with Greg and Matt has been tough for the rest of the field. The season is young, however.

The Picks

Greg Hunter
Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 13
Trying to predict this one is very tough. Every matchup category is either even or very close. At this point, both BYU and WVU seem to be good football teams, but it’s still too early yet to call either outstanding. This showdown at FedEx figures to go right down to the wire. The semi-home field advantage should help give West Virginia a slim edge.
  West Virginia 31-30  
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 16
All indications on paper are that this is a game West Virginia should win, and the majority of public opinion agrees as the line is set accordingly. The Mountaineers have a speed and quickness advantage, and both their offense and defense have as much or more experience playing together than does BYU. This is a program with a first-year head coach and an offensive coordinator learning along the way. And while the Cougars have been solid defensively, they have yet to face an offense with the riches of West Virginia. That's not to say the game might not be closer than desired. BYU has for years earned a reputation as a technically sound program which plays hard and doesn't beat itself. That's a formula for being competitive in almost any game. If WVU protects the football and wins the turnover battle, and can get a semblance of a good ground game going, it wins this one barring a huge special teams play.
  West Virginia 32-21  
Jonathan Martin Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 32
West Virginia comes off a bye week with a tough matchup against BYU. The Cougars don't have the most impressive record (1-2) but don't be fooled. I anticipate the Mountaineers will use the ground game more this week, as Rushel Shell continues to have a stellar season. While BYU is likely to keep the game close for a while the Mountaineers should pull out a win.
  West Virginia 31-17  
Jeff Cobb Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 32
Historically, the Cougars are known for their offense. And under the direction of Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers have been viewed as a wide open, Air Raid attack as well. But under new coach Sitake, BYU has struggled a bit offensively. However the defense has been stout, holding Arizona, Utah and UCLA to an average of 17 points a game. WVU has been just as good stopping the other guy, holding their two opponents to a 16 point average. I said all that to come to this point: This game will not be as high scoring as some people think. On offense, the Mountaineers have been a more productive than the Cougars, averaging 14 more points per game. Another factor is the location. Although it's not a true road game in a hostile environment, it's still travel involved. Taking into account that this will be the first time some Mountaineer players have played outside the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium, I see a pretty tight game, but one WVU ultimately finds a way to win.
  West Virginia 30-23  
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 35
After a week off the Mountaineers take the short trip to Washington, D.C. to play BYU for the first time in school history. WVU is 2-0 and looking for respect in the polls while BYU (1-2) has endured two narrow losses to UCLA and Utah. The BYU offense has struggled in its first three games and has yet to reach 20 points in a game while the Blue and Gold offense has been good enough to rank seventh nationally. Look for the Mountaineers to struggle early but come through with a narrow victory.
  West Virginia 34-27  
Brian McCracken Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 37
Coming off of a bye week the Mountaineers got some much needed rest, and more importantly some extra time to prepare for their upcoming contest against BYU. Entering Saturday's game BYU has been superb on the defensive side of the football and hasn't allowed more than 20 points in a game on the year. However the offense has been thoroughly unimpressive, averaging 17 points a contest and accumulating only 339 yards per game. I think the Mountaineers offensive line will be tested early and often against a very aggressive BYU defense and I think the Mountaineers' defense could surrender some drives to the Cougars' offense, but similarly to the two contests I see West Virginia making the necessary adjustments on both sides of the ball and outplaying the Cougars in the second half. Look for a close game, but the Mountaineers will prevail.
  West Virginia 26-21  
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 39
This weekend's game is a tough one to predict for a few reasons. BYU's offensive leaders have been anything but spectacular so far this year. If that trend continues at FedEx Field is something that we will find out this Saturday, but given the track record through the first three games for BYU, I don't see any reason for a big change. BYU will have more success against the Mountaineer defense, but an off week and a chance for this squad to get healthy should make the difference.
  West Virginia 34-24  
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Point Differential: 42
Before we get to the game, I want to point this out: BYU has to fly over West Virginia to get to their game against the Mountaineers. Makes sense. Modern day college football! This pick will be short and sweet. Neither team has been overwhelmingly impressive, but based off of what I've seen the Mountaineers have a better grasp of what they're doing than BYU does. The Cougars still look to be in the "getting to know you" phase under first-year coach Kalani Sitake. Steve Young, Jim McMahon, and Ty Detmer aren't walking through that door. And if they do, they'll be old and gray.
  West Virginia 27-21  

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