Fearless Picks - Connecticut

After last week's shakeup in the standings, does anyone have an upset feeling?

Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 7-0
Hahahaha. You think I'm going to pick an opponent to win a night game at Mountaineer Field in the Rich Rod era? Get outta here! Who do you think I am, Matt Keller?

Over the course of the season's first seven games, we've found out many things. Among them is that it doesn't matter who's playing quarterback, because both Adam Bednarik and Pat White have what it takes to win for WVU. White will likely get his first career start against the Huskies on the national stage, and I look for him to shine. Of course, Steve Slaton will continue his recent success, and will get at least the 108 yards he'll need to average per game to top 1000. (One side note on Slaton: If you get a chance, check out Chuck Finder's fantastic story from Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the true freshman running back.)

The Huskies' schedule is the college football equivalent to that of the Indianapolis Colts. Just as the Colts will get a rude awakening courtesy of the New England Patriots in Gilette Stadium next Monday night, the Huskies will have their hands full in prime time this week. Welcome to Morgantown UConn. Don't let the Big East Championship trophies hit you on the way out of the Puskar Center.

Pick: West Virginia 38-17
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 7-0
West Virginia must not let UConn RB Terry Caulley run wild. The junior is capable of putting up big numbers, but the Huskies have lost eight players to injuries, including their top two QBs. WVU should have little trouble.
Pick: West Virginia 28-10
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 7-0
The scary part about Wednesday night's game is that it has the feel of a bowl game. With 18 days between games, the Mountaineers have had time to either 1) get healthy and fix some pesky mistakes or 2) grow rusty and lose focus.

From what I have seen from this year's team, I would expect option No. 1 to be the story, but we all know that West Virginia's history in bowl games has been about as positive as Bob Knight's and Bob Huggins' meetings with university presidents. Therefore, comparing this break to a layoff before a bowl games has put visions of WVU fans trying to do the Heimlich on a choking Mountaineer into my head.

Those images, though, can easily be replaced by thoughts of a three-legged Husky dog trying to finish the Iditarod Race, as UConn has been battered by injury after injury. I simply do not see this Connecticut team, even with three extra days of rest, being able to stay in the game with the fresh, determined Mountaineers.

Steve Slaton will top the 100-yard mark again, Pat White will score at least one rushing touchdown of his own, and the WVU defense will prove that it is not as bad against the pass as many think. West Virginia will move to 7-1 and one step closer to a BCS trip one year late.

Pick: West Virginia 34-19
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 6-1
Football? There's another football game? Gee, it's been so long since the last one, I thought it was basketball season already. I was already on to postmodern and ontological analysis of the verb "to Pittsnogle."

The gurus of all things statistical tell me that when you discount UConn's victories over Buffalo, New Jersey Polytech, and Morgantown High School, they are allowing 27.3 points per game. WVU, coincidentally, is scoring an average of 27.3 points per game.

So the prediction is obvious:

Pick: WVU 27.3 - 7
 
Andy Easton Last Week: L Season: 6-1
The Huskies make their first trip to Morgantown for a football game, looking to get their first ever win over a Div-1A ranked team. After starting out the season strongly, winning their first two games by a combined score of 97-0, the Huskies have experienced some injury problems and have dropped three out of their last five games.

Over the last 11 years, UConn is 5-17 as a road underdog while the Mountaineers are 37-10 as a home favorite. Look for a rested Blue and Gold team to start out slow but overtake these Huskies in the second half.

Pick: West Virginia 27-13
 
Chuck McGill Last Week: L Season: 6-1
I've had 18 days to think of a list of ways UConn could come out on top of this mid-week affair. Sure, that Husky defense stands out on paper, but it's not like UConn and its defensive-minded coaching staff is perplexing powerhouse offenses around the country.

No, the fact of the matter is this. West Virginia has been unbeatable at home, at night, under Rich Rodriguez. The team is 6-1, ranked nationally in all relavant polls, and has a Bowl Championship Series berth in its crosshairs.

UConn is 4-3, but only 1-2 against Big East competition. That vaunted defense has propelled the team to wins over Buffalo, Liberty, Army and Syracuse. Teams that are a combined 3-29 between them. Army, who is 1-6, remains their only road victory.

The Huskies have also been bitten by the injury bug, which has left their one strength - the defense - thin and inexperienced in places. On offense, the quarterback position has fallen onto the 18-year old shoulders of Dennis Brown, a true freshman.

Usually, I'm of the level-headed, respect all variety. But all things considered, this contest shouldn't be close.

Pick: West Virginia 35-14
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season:6-1
West Virginia comes home after a two and a half week layoff to face an injury riddled Husky squad coming off a loss to Rutgers. The Mountaineers will take command of the Big East with a big win over the Huskies.

WVU does not forget the trash talking coming from the UConn players last year, including a Husky special teams player spitting on Adam Jones and another ripping his helmet off and displaying it like a trophy trying to goad Jones into a brawl. These were just a couple of the more publicized happenings from that ballgame. And the Mountaineers were none too pleased.

Expect a big thumping from this year's Mountaineers as the Huskies come to Mountaineer Field for their first experience with hostility.

Pick: West Virginia 49-13
 
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 5-2
Connecticut starts a true freshman at quarterback, and with its myriad of injuries, the Huskies are nearly as young as near-prep power Cincinnati.

As Blue and Gold News proprietor Greg Hunter often opines, it's not the uniform, but what's in it. Talent will win more often than not, as long as it works as hard. There's no doubting West Virginia's end-game stamina has boosted it past winded foes Maryland and Louisville -- and nearly all others.

With UConn injured and never having played in this hostile of an environment, the Mountaineers seemingly have a clear path to win No. 7. That clarity could become muddied by 18 days off and major mistakes. The break makes this game closer than it might otherwise be, but in the end-game and talent department, WVU has too much. A late Connecticut score cuts the gap in a game where schemes might not matter if the Mountaineers avoid crippling mistakes.

Pick: West Virginia 31-20

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