Fearless Picks - Miss. State

Two grizzled vets (o.k., they're in their mid-40s) closed the gap on youngblood Chris Richardson in last week's action. Can he hold them off with this week's selection?

Pickin' and Grinnin'

Greg and Bill closed to within a touchdown of Chris' group-leading mark, while everyone is within two scores of the youngest member of the Blue & Gold News staff.

Nose Picking

After some impressive selections the first three weeks, no one came within three touchdowns of the point differential in the ECU game.

Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 61
West Virginia heads into SEC country on Saturday afternoon for a match-up with Mississippi State. The cowbells will be out in full force as the Mountaineers hit the road for the second straight game. Past West Virginia teams may have faltered in this type of situation, but this current squad will prevail in a hard fought victory. The blue and gold are pretty healthy coming out of the bye week, which should provide some much needed depth in the Mississippi heat.

Look for quarterback Pat White to have his best game of the season, which should open up plenty of running lanes for fellow sophomore Steve Slaton. The Mountaineer defense has improved every week, and against the lethargic Bulldog offense, Jeff Casteel's troops will simply be too much for the home team to handle. A long haul back to Morgantown for the Blue and Gold News crew will be complete with this decisive Mountaineer victory.

Pick: West Virginia 31-13
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 63
A game in SEC country could be tricky, but MSU won't be mistaken for a top-flight SEC team. WVU must do what it does best (run the ball), but unless it makes ECU-type miscues (untimely turnovers, blocking mistakes up front), it should be fine.
Pick: West Virginia 28-14
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 64
Ali-Frazier. Foreman-Frazier. Foreman-Ali. Leonard-Duran. Leonard-Hagler. Mississippi State-West Virginia.

In the most anticipated pay-per-view event since the 2005 Hot Dog Eating World Championships, the Mountaineers migrate south to Mississippi to take on the MSU Bulldogs. It is a classic match up of the irresistable force versus the immovable object. And the resistable force against the movable object.

It is likely that State will rely heavily on its stout rush defense to slow the top rushing offense in the Big East. It is merely up to the WVU coaching staff to use the weapons of the passing game against a less than stellar Bulldog pass defense. WVU needs to get ahead early, because the State offense does not possess enough firepower to mount a comeback on a Top 10 football team. The pressure of a high ranking and a tough road venue both rest squarely on the shoulders of the defending Big East champion, but this isn't Jackie Sherrill's MSU squad.

Pick: West Virginia 42-13
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 70
This game worries me. Maybe it's the fact that WVU is playing a SEC team on its home field. Maybe it's the fact that Mississippi State has talent but hasn't come together as a team yet, or maybe it's just the ringing of those darn cowbells. But something tells me that the Mountaineers may be walking into an ambush.

Don't get me wrong, I'm confident that the Blue and Gold will leave Starkville with a win. I'm just afraid it may be thisclose if WVU fails to get the ground game churning.

My head says WVU by 30, my gut says WVU by seven, my wife says split the difference.

Pick: West Virginia 28-10
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 70
At the risk of being bombarded by Matt Keller — who has picked close games all his life and now considers himself the king of predictions because he finally got one right when West Virginia failed to blow ECU out of the water — I am going to forecast that the Mountaineers will win this one comfortably.

The defense has had to sit back and listen to how bad it is for the last two weeks, and it will take the field with a great deal of emotion and on a mission to prove that it is not going to be the reason the Mountaineers miss out on a dream season. Omar Conner and the rest of the Bulldogs will not know what hit them, and West Virginia will give another SEC team a lesson in what Big East football is all about.

With the Heisman talk now in the background, Steve Slaton will lead the WVU offense — which has also heard enough talk about how wonderful the Mississippi State defense is — toward grabbing the country's attention once again. Slaton will top 150 yards, and the Mountaineers will score twice through the year.

Yes it will be hot, and I know cowbells can be very loud. But this game will come down to talent, and West Virginia has a lot more than the Bulldogs.

Pick: West Virginia 38-10
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 74
This one won't be a pushover. In fact, it won't even be easy. It's the SEC, it's far away, a long trip for a team that may be tired from taking midterm exams this week, and then there's the matter of those ^&)* cowbells.

However: it's a homecoming of sorts for Pat White, the pride of Daphne, Ala., and Pat is not one to let Mom and Dad and their 87 relatives down (or is that 187 relatives?). Look for a big game from the QB, proof that Mountaineer Field really is a pretty loud place (the cowbells won't throw the Mountaineers THAT much), and a larger-than-expected gathering of the Mountaineer Faithful.

Pick: West Virginia 31-17
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 4-0 Pt Diff: 75
West Virginia is averaging more than 300 yards rushing per game. Mississippi State's defensive strength is stopping such attacks. This Big East-Southeastern Conference tilt is a battle of strength vs. strength. And that match-up is one that will be won by MSU. Look for tailback Steve Slaton to be bottled by the Bulldog defensive speed, and by a lack of execution by the Mountaineer offense in its first regular season game against an SEC team since an early 1990s contest versus South Carolina – and the first road game since it played at Kentucky in 1977, a 20-16 loss.

Problem for State is that it simply can't score. Quarterback Omarr Conner has the elusiveness and skill to break solid gains against the 3-3-5 odd stack. But for Mississippi State to put the amount of points on the board it will need to beat WVU (read: 24-plus, at a minimum) it will have to string together five drives, at least three of which must result in touchdowns if West Virginia does not turn the ball over. Barring the unforeseen dropped balls, State cashes in for 21 points. The Mountaineers score 28, but find the going difficult and seem to bog down at times. This contest will be closer than many experts – and, indeed, most fans – think, but WVU has a bit too much of everything. Look for a big special teams play to spark the winner; cross your fingers it's not a mistake by the Mountaineer punt team.

Pick: West Virginia 28-22

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