Fearless Picks - Cincinnati

Will the first road trip in a month have any of our forecasters feeling uneasy?

Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 8-0
The Mountaineers are 11-1-1 against the Bearcats since they began playing on an intermittent basis in 1921. That one loss came during a miserable, turnover filled game in Morgantown that left WVU at 1-2 and the Bearcats 2-0 early into the 2003 season. Since that game Mountaineers have gone 22-8 while Cincinnati is 14-16, only two of those 14 wins came against BCS teams, UConn and Syracuse, both this season.

This time the Mountaineers hang on to the ball and beat the Bearcats by thee touchdowns.

Pick: West Virginia 37-16
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 8-0
The Mountaineers need to be careful not to fall into the "trap" when they travel to Cincinnati. I know it's cliche, but this is an improving Cincinnati team with a solid coach in former Ohio State assistant Mark Dantonio. He is building this team on players from the Buckeye State, and though they are young now, they will be dangerous in a couple of years...

But not this year. The Mountaineers have too much talent, and are on a mission towards the BCS. Pat White is playing his best football of the season down the stretch, and Steve Slaton will be back with a vengence after missing the second half of last week's game against UConn. Expect a large contingent of Mountaineer fans to be on hand in Nippert Stadium, and also expect to see several former Mountaineers and current Cincinnati Bengals down on the sidelines. Here's the only question about this game to me: If the Mountaineers score a touchdown, and Chris Henry is at the game, is it possible for him to get a celebration penalty from the sideline? How does this work? If the Mountaineers score a touchdown, and Henry folds his arms, will they throw a flag out of habit? Keep a close eye on this.

Pick: West Virginia 41-14
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 8-0
Cincinnati's extremely young squad is showing some signs of improvement, but the Bearcats shouldn't have enough experience or talent, especially in the trenches, to match up with West Virginia. If the Mountaineers want to continue their march to a BCS berth, this is a game they should win easily.
Pick: West Virginia 38-14
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 8-0
This will not be the laugher many are expecting. Cincinnati is playing much better football than it was early in the season, as much of its youth is finally starting to gel together.

Speed is a quality that this Bearcat club has plenty of, and that can often be a great equalizer. Playing at home doesn't hurt either, and Cincinnati is 3-1 in Nippert Stadium this season.

While many are pointing to Pitt and South Florida as possible traps, the UC team could actually be the one that puts a hitch in West Virginia's BCS plans if the Mountaineers do not come to play.

The good news for WVU fans is this team has not shown any signs of overconfidence, and I do not expect it to overlook any team on the schedule. Cincinnati is playing better, but West Virginia at its best is still much too strong.

West Virginia will find a score in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) and Cincinnati will fold up under pressure just as its professional team did when the Steelers came to town. Don't count the Bearcats out of a bowl just yet, but they are not ready to run with the Mountaineers.

Pick: West Virginia 36-20
Chuck McGill Last Week: W Season: 8-0
Label me Debbie Downer if you wish, but I'm just not excited about a Mountaineer trip to Nippert Stadium.

It has absolutely nothing to dear with the ferociousness of the Bearcats, or this hogwash about how they are a young up-and-coming, fear-invoking squad with nothing to lose. Well, maybe they have nothing to lose, but that certainly doesn't make an upset any more likely.

West Virginia will continue its bond with everybody's favorite Uncle, Mo. The defense will continue to be nothing short of dominating, and will stifle the run and thwart the pass in another impressive nationally-televised performance. Long live Huggy Bear!

Pick: West Virginia 37-17
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 7-1
It's a long bus trip from Morgantown to Cincinnati. There must be some decent radio stations between here and there, for the team to listen to on their southwesterly journey.

Ernie Hunter tunes back in, Pat White sends signals from the highest tower, Steve Slaton changes Cincinnati's channel, and Jahmile Addae puts on a show so good that it reminds us that his WVU degree is in broadcast journalism.

WWVU will jam the airwaves, leaving WKRP without a signal -- or a clue what hit them.

Pick: West Virginia 35-7
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season:7-1
The Mountaineer defense continues to drive the ship as the offense continues to find different ways to put the ball in the endzone.

For weeks it has been Steve Slaton, last week Owen Schmitt got back into the fray and Pat White used his arm and legs to give the Mountaineer coaches a second homerun weapon in the backfield. The mild injury to Slaton in the first half last week gave Pernell Williams and Jason Colson an opportunity to get back into the tailback mix, and while unspectacular, they did not disappoint.

The young Cincinnati squad plays well in Nippert Stadium and the Bearcats have played two straight solid games against the Mountaineers, including a win in the last meeting at Mountaineer Field.

Expect Rich Rodriguez to ride that loss for all it is worth in preparation this week as the young Mountaineers continue to prove they are a focused and tightly knit group intent on bringing home the Big East title for the third straight season, this time the entire share.

Pick: West Virginia 42-17
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 6-2
West Virginia's fans aren't at all focused on this game; The Mountaineers better be. Cincinnati has talent, but its youthfulness has detracted from better results. The Bearcats have rallied of late, signaling a maturation process and the potential for a bowl berth should it win two of its final three.

And, perhaps more amazingly, UC isn't out of the BCS picture yet. If it wins out and gets a perfect storm-like assemblage of wins and losses, it could tie West Virginia for first place at 5-2, and jump the Mountaineers in terms of ranking.

Unbelievable? Consider that if Cincy wins out, the Bearcats, 7-4 overall, own the win over WVU and are red-shot, having won their final four games and five of its last six. The Mountaineers are 8-3 but have lost two of their final three, including a late, and, for Cincinnati's sake, very bad-looking loss to South Florida.

That might flip the BCS ranking enough that WVU can't claw within five spots. The 'Cats then go a-BCS bowling. Sure, it would take a near miracle, but that's what Cincinnati got when it beat West Virginia (six turnovers?) and what WVU got -- in a milder version -- when a last-second kick hit the left upright at Nippert. West Virginia has more talent. Let's hope it has as much focus.

Pick: West Virginia 34-17

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