Fearless Picks - Virginia Tech

Our group of six split 3-3 on their Maryland predictions - did anyone learn a lesson?

Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season 4-0 Pick: WVU 24-13
West Virginia hasn't beaten Virginia Tech three straight times since winning five in a row from 1981-1985. Virginia Tech has won three straight against WVU three times since that stretch.

During WVU's five game winning streak, Virginia Tech scored six (81), six (82), zero (83), seven (84) and nine (85) points.

The average all-time score in the WVU-VT series?

WVU 16
VT 16

Nobody in the country believes WVU is going to leave Lane with a victory. Despite physically dominating Tech from pillar to post in last year's 28-7 thrashing, the Mountaineers are actually now a three-point underdog. Again Tech is going to stack the line to stop the run, and again Rasheed Marshall is going to be looked upon to win the game with his arm.

West Virginia will come out with more four wide sets against Tech than they have in four years against anyone. Marshall will complete 15 passes before halftime. WVU will lead, Tech will open the middle, and the Mountaineers will play second-half smashmouth to victory. By the way, WVU's defense isn't too bad, either, and Tech's special teams actually look human this season. This game could get ugly, or it could be a nail biter. But it will be WVU.

Andy Easton Last Week: L Season 4-0 Pick: WVU 18-17
WVU has a secret weapon in its bag that you've probably never heard of. It's called the "Easton Press Pass" factor. When I am in the press box to cover the game, WVU's record is an unblemished 7-0, including 4-0 on the road. In case you were wondering, I will, indeed, be in the press box this Saturday polishing the Black Diamond Trophy for its return trip to Morgantown
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season 4-0 Pick: WVU 27-17
The Mountaineers and Hokies meet up for what could be the final time in Blacksburg. While home last weekend, I got the chance to watch a good portion of the Hokies' narrow loss to NC State. What I saw was the same thing I saw a month ago in their opening game against USC...a one-man team. Bryan Randall is an exceptional athlete, but he isn't a guy that can go out and beat the number six team in the nation by himself.

True, Blacksburg is a very difficult place to play. True, Tech will be plenty motivated coming off of the NC State loss, and the 28-7 drubbing they took in Morgantown last season. The bottom line is, they just don't have enough offense. Superior line play on both sides of the ball will give the Mountaineers a big advantage in the overall scheme of the game. The Blue and Gold will use the pass to set up the run in this one, making the Hokies back off the line somewhat, and opening up bigger holes for Kay-Jay and the other backs.

Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season 3-1 Pick: WVU 24-14
On paper, Tech doesn't appear to have the gamebreakers it's had in the past. The Hokies are young, and senior QB Bryan Randall is their only real offensive threat. If WVU can slow down Randall and avoid its own mistakes, it should be fine.
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season 3-1 Pick: WVU 27-24
I am not going to make the mistake that I did against Maryland and pick against the Mountaineers. This team is for real. Sure, it hasn't played its best game yet, but it has found a way to win. When you can play as badly as West Virginia has in some of its games and still come away with a win, you have to be a good team.

With that said, it is going to take a better effort than any the Mountaineers have displayed so far to earn the win. But I expect just that. This is the time of year that WVU has traditionally gotten back on track under Rich Rodriguez. The early games have always been a struggle, and the only difference this year is that West Virginia has found a way to survive. This will be the best game the Mountaineers have played all year. Look for at least 100 yards from Harris and 50 from Colson. Most of them will come later in the game, however, as Tech will force the Mountaineers to prove they can throw in the early going.

With Henry being double teamed for most of the afternoon, Eddie Jackson will catch at least four balls and have a breakout game. Look for a little trickery when Hales and Thompson are on the field, and much more creativity in the passing game than WVU has shown so far. To stop the Hokie offense, the Mountaineers must stop Randall. WVU's defenders might all take the field wearing Biran King's number 11, which could frighten the Hokie signal caller into some mistakes.

Matt Keller Last Week: W Season 3-1 Pick: VT 21-17
West Virginia has a talent edge against Virginia Tech for the first time since 1998. Even that season, a very talented but unfocused Mountaineer team was hammered by the Hokies in Blacksburg.

It's difficult enough to win at Lane Stadium once, but back-to-back wins for any program outside Miami have been few and far between. WVU last did it in 1982 and '84, when the Gobbler program was a shell of what it is now. It will not be the talent that wins this game, but urgency and locale.

Tech QB Bryan Randall will play well enough to win, which he hasn't in the last two meetings, and his teammates squeeze out just enough on the ground against WVU. Special teams play looms large. A big return by Pac Man Jones or a block by Tech could be the difference. The kicking game has yet to perform in the clutch, and there's no reason to think he can do it against VT.

West Virginia will get every ounce of ability and physicality Virginia Tech possesses. It must hit back.

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