Fearless Picks - Syracuse Edition

Does anyone think that the Orange have improved enough to knock the Mountaineers off in a home night game in Morgantown?

Matt Keller Last Week: W Season 5-1 Pick: WVU 28-23
Look for Syracuse to try and pass over WVU’s defensive backs early in the game. If the Orange can get Walter Reyes rushing, they’ll stick with it. If not, it’s quarterback Perry Patterson and his wideouts against a Mountaineer secondary that has shown the ability to get beat deep. Thus far few quarterbacks have been able to complete the passes, however.

On offense, the Orange secondary is among the tallest West Virginia will face all season. Chris Henry has yet to make any type of effort for the deep ball, and there’s no reason to think he can do it consistently anymore against even decent DBs.

WVU will show another solid rushing effort physically, but with missed blocks downfield and a few holding calls. A punt will be shanked. Another personal foul or two will be called after a player shows off for merely making a play. Ho-hum.

That leaves Rasheed Marshall to again shoulder the load and prove why he is among the best West Virginia quarterbacks of all time. He’ll run and throw well; he’ll play smart and lead. And he’ll win. Funny how that equates.

Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season 5-1 Pick: WVU 34-17
Syracuse comes in to Morgantown as a 16 point underdog. West Virginia hasn’t beaten Syracuse three straight since 1972, 1973 & 1974. Three times WVU has had the opportunity to win three straight since then, and twice the third game was in Morgantown (1986, 1990).

WVU actually beat Syracuse three straight times in the 90s, only the Big East officiating crew screwed the Mountaineers in the infamous Marvin Graves' spike off the helmet game of 1992.

Syracuse didn’t score on WVU in 1993 and 1994. Since then, it’s been all Syracuse unitl the last couple of seasons. The Mountaineers appear to be as healthy as they’ve been all season. With the return of Kay Jay Harris in the backfield and some self-control int eh penalty department, this game could be ugly. However, WVU hasn’t shown any indication of playing its top game yet this year. The Mountaineers put the game away with a late score.

Andy Easton Last Week: W Season 5-1 Pick: WVU 34-21
The Orange have lost to three ranked teams while beating three teams that are average at best, so it is hard to get a good read on this year's team. If this game was being played in the Carrier Dome I would have a hard time picking the Blue and Gold but since the game is being played in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium I have to go with the Mountaineers.
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season 5-1 Pick: WVU 31-16
I don't know why, but for some reason I can't get a vibe for this game. Kay Jay Harris is healthy, Pernell Williams looks to be a Mountaineer-type runner, and Rasheed Marshall is playing the best football of his career this season.

WVU will need some consistent play from its wide receivers in order to beat the Orange. Walter Reyes is a good back, but he's not a guy that's going to be able to beat the Mountaineers all by himself. At the end of the day though, the Mountaineers just have too much depth in the backfield for the Orange to take them out in Morgantown. Plus, let's be realistic: It's a night game at Mountaineer Field. Case closed.

Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season 4-2 Pick: WVU 34-14
Until recently, Syracuse had been a titanic struggle for WVU, with the Orange winning six of seven games over West Virginia from 1995-2001. But times have changed, and most importantly, SU’s talent pool seems very thin. WVU has to play good football, but plan and simple, the Mountaineers are a much better team right now than their long-time rivals from central New York.
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season 4-2 Pick: WVU 31-17
The Syracuse Orange are the best Big East football team to step onto the football field since the Miami Hurricanes of 2001. At least that is what I seem to be hearing since Coach P's team stayed in a game with the mighty Florida State Seminoles.

Forget the fact that they have been outscored by their opponents 154-120 in six games this season. Throw aside the fact that their wins have come over powerhouses like Buffalo, Cincinnati and Rutgers. Don't mention the fact that their quarterback has thrown only three touchdowns while tossing four interceptions, and whatever you do please forget the fact that they are at the bottom of the conference in passing yards and have scored fewer points than any team in the Big East. Oh yeah, before I forget, please don't think the fact that the Syracuse athletics Web site is only slightly more popular than the Fire Coach P site means that the fans are tired of what they are seeing in Central New York. The Orange played with Florida State, so they are a football juggernaut.

Don't let any of this hype fool you. Syracuse is no better than what they have been in the past three years and in fact is probably a little worse. West Virginia will rack up 400 yards of offense against SU, and the biggest concern in Morgantown will be keeping the parties down in Sunnyside. West Virginia loves to perform under the lights, and Thursday night will be no different. The Mountaineers will move to 6-1. But don't get too excited. Herbsreit and Corso, and of course the ESPN in-studio crew, will still find a way to bash our team and our conference in front of a national audience. Maybe, though, they will at least be able to get our team nickname right on the game story on their web site.

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