Barring a collapse like those of his trick knee, Chris looks to have the contest sewn up. Matt makes it a sweep for the instate youngbloods. Still, position battles remain for Greg vs. Jane and Cam vs. Andy to keep the interest up.
Bill's grumbly pick of Rutgers sent him skidding to the bottom of the pack, and now he expects the rest of the BGN crew to house him in Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl. Several retributions are being considered.
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 11-1||Pt Diff: 174|
It's been a really fun week here in Jacksonville, and a week that has
gone by way too fast. The good news about it going too fast is that the
game is finally here.
The Gator Bowl is sure to be an entertaining affair. With three consensus All-Americans (GT's Calvin Johnson and WVU's Steve Slaton and Dan Mozes) the game certainly isn't lacking for star power. Throw in one of the nation's best defenses, and the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, and fans will surely get everything they paid for when they fill into Alltel Stadium this afternoon.
The question that we've been asked at least 10,000 times this week while we've been out in Jacksonville is whether or not Steve Slaton will play? Slaton is a warrior, and he'll surely give it a go. Expecting him to be as effective as usual is out of the question, in my opinion. With Pat White and Owen Schmitt both close to full health, limiting Slaton won't be as detrimental as it could be.
On the flip side, Georgia Tech is playing without their senior quarterback, and at least one starting defensive back. Safety Jamal Lewis is also questionable for the game after being involved in an automobile accident on Saturday evening that claimed the life of a family friend.
Is Tech good enough to overcome the loss of three starters? Not in my book.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-27|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 11-1||Pt Diff: 213|
West Virginia's injury status has been well-documented, but no one really knows how Steve Slaton, Patrick White and Owen Schmitt will play until they step on the field. Although Georgia Tech is hobbled by academic and personal issues, they have no such problems with star wideout Calvin Johnson, who could make the difference.
This pick is partly motivated by the chance to win this contest, but the thinking is the Mountaineers won't be able to contain the Tech passing game
|Pick: Georgia Tech 31-24|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 10-2||Pt Diff: 184|
|Tech is a very tough matchup for WVU with its excellent run defense and the big play ability of Johnson. Still, when White and Slaton are healthy, few defenses have been able to slow them down.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-24|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 10-2||Pt Diff: 187|
Ah, drama. The lead up to this Gator Bowl has been full of drama: 2 disappointing losses that sent WVU back to Jacksonville yet again instead of that expected BCS national stage, nagging injuries to all three Sports Illustrated coverboys Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Owen Schmitt, WVU's first-ever national individual award in Rimington Trophy winner Dan Mozes, WVU's first-ever two consensus All-Americans in one year in Mozes and Slaton, Coach Rod's flirtation with Alabama then dramatic announcement that he would stay at WVU, then the ineligibility of Georgia Tech's quarterback and cornerback. "Days of our Lives" and "As the World Turns" never had better extended plot lines.
So what are the players to do with all the drama? Have they been able to shut it out and stay focused? And just how is the rehabilitation of those key injuries progressing? Will the Great Triumvirate be ready to go on January 1, at full speed, or close thereto? Are there other little mini-dramas playing out backstage, of which we are not yet aware? Stay tuned for the January 1 episode of "Mountaineer Melodrama."
|Pick: West Virginia 35-24|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 10-2||Pt Diff: 200|
Since the announcement of West Virginia's Gator Bowl selection, all I have
heard is that WVU cannot win in Jacksonville. Folks, it is not the location
or the bowl that has kept the Mountaineers from winning in their previous
four tries. The problem has been matchups. This time, though, a look at the
game on paper would certainly favor West Virginia, and that, along with a
gut feeling is why I am going to forecast the end of the Gator Bowl blues.
Slaton will play and play well. West Virginia's All-American superback will pass the 150-yard mark on the ground and the Mountaineers will cruise to a win. With that out of the way, now my only worry is finding a way to be there to see it.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-18|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 10-2||Pt Diff: 205|
|A healthy Mountaineer squad would beat this Georgia Tech team by 17 points, but with injuries to several key WVU players this game will be close. If the Blue and Gold wins the turnover battle, they will win on the scoreboard. If not, it will be another long day in Jacksonville.|
|Pick: West Virginia 24-23|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 9-3||Pt Diff: 183|
Injuries to Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt will force WVU to rely more heavily on the pass, which hasn't been a staple of the Rich Rodriguez offense at WVU.
Georgia Tech has to deal with a new QB against the #22 pass rush defense in the country.
If WVU passes early, the Mountaineers win going away. If the Mountaineers bang their heads against the wall too long on the ground, this game will not be decided until late.
My bet is on the latter, but the Mountaineers will still prevail.
|Pick: West Virginia 49-24|