Chris and Matt move into the lead with their prescient, yet painful, picks of the Cardinals. And no, that doesn't make them disloyal. Just smart.
It's tough to fault anyone for picking West Virginia in what was expected to be a closely contested game, however. Andy's move into the cellar apparently embarrassed him so much that he relocated to China for a week.
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 8-0||Pt Diff: 108|
The Mountaineers have had a week to lick their wounds following a their
first loss on the season. With a chance at the Big East title now in
sight after Louisville's loss to Rutgers, don't expect the Mountaineers
to come out flat on Saturday afternoon. At the same time, don't expect
Mark Dantonio's Bearcats to lay down, roll over, and/or play dead just
because they're coming to Morgantown.
One could argue that Cincinnati is just as battle tested (if not more so) than the Mountaineers. They haven't backed down from a challenge yet, and won't do so on Saturday. It's games like this where West Virginia is fortunate to have Pat White wearing the blue and gold. He'll be the difference maker in this Mountaineer win.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-17|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 8-0||Pt Diff: 133|
This is, simply, a bad matchup for Cincinnati. The Bearcats' run-first set plays right into the teeth of West Virginia's defensive strength. Cincy does utilize the tight end, one of WVU's coverage weaknesses, but quarterback Dustin Grutza has yet to have much success throwing downfield. Add in that UC is power-based, and doesn't try much trickery, and the straight-up approach will be very difficult to execute against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia's offense will face its smallest defensive line opponent yet. Cincinnati does have very good quickness. The 'Cats approach -- shadowing quarterback Patrick White or tailback Steve Slaton -- will be interesting to see and will reveal much about which backfield mate will have the better day. It reads here that WVU completes a few downfield passes and runs at will while locking down the UC attack save for a few escapes by Grutza. The run-based attacks will also limit possessions, so a lower-scoring game is in the works.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-14|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 7-1||Pt Diff: 105|
Now that there's more room on the bandwagon, it gets a bit easier to stretch out and relax.
Despite being quite upset with the Mountaineers at blowing my lead in the pick contest, I will stick with them. Some, like the yinzers at the top of this week's list, think I continue to pick the Mountaineers because I'm a homer. I pick the Mountaineers because I think they're that good.
If the Mountaineers hang on to the ball, this one is going to get ugly. Cincinnati brings a much-improved squad to town with what is supposed to be the best defense WVU has faced all year. The UC defense has not faced the nation's best offense, until now. The stars will shine, the role players will get more yards and points and the Mountaineers take out their frustrations on the Bearcats.
|Pick: West Virginia 43-13|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: L||Season: 7-1||Pt Diff: 105|
|UC is definitely better than the club WVU mashed 38-0 last year, but the Mountaineers still have too many weapons for the Bearcats.|
|Pick: West Virginia 38-13|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: L||Season: 7-1||Pt Diff: 114|
While some on the staff have spent the week with their chests puffed out
bragging about their forecasting abilities after correctly picking
Louisville over West Virginia last week, I have been hanging my head about
the fact that the better team did not win the game. But as I hope the
Mountaineers have done, I have put that game in the past.
Rutgers' win over the Cards Thursday night gave WVU some new life, and this time it will not slip up. Look for the Mountaineers to take out all of their frustrations on Cincinnati. Another BCS appearance is again a real possibility, and no matter what the other "Negative Nancys" on the staff think, I believe that Pat White and crew are ready to make that run.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-16|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 7-1||Pt Diff: 120|
The mood in Morgantown continues to be a somber one. This team is not used to
losing and beyond the shock of losing, they realize they fumbled away a shot at
the national championship. The pundits keep talking about how the whole team is
coming back next year, and we can make another run then, but that does not
console the heart, soul, and leadership of the present squad: seniors Dan Mozes
and Jeremy Sheffey.
Hopefully, once the uniforms go on and a sell-out crowd receives them home with a raucous welcome, their heads will get in the game and they will do what they are capable of doing to a mid-level Big East team like Cincinnati. How long it takes for that to happen will be crucial. Cincinnati is on the upswing. They've looked better each week of the season, but a focused WVU is certainly capable of victory.
Will the pride-wounded Mountaineers play with their heads or their broken hearts? It may take a quarter or so to get back in gear, but eventually the heads will win.
|Pick: West Virginia 35-21|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: L||Season: 7-1||Pt Diff: 134|
|Although Cincinnati has been successful in shutting down the run against some foes, it hasn't been as successful in facing the heavyweights. That West Virginia is an elite member of the nation's running schools is without doubt, and the Bearcats could see their defensive stats against the run rise dramatically on Saturday afternoon.|
|Pick: West Virginia 41-22|