PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
It was an easy week for the group, as Western Michigan, despite its best efforts, couldn't come up with an Appalachian State-sized upset against WVU. Bill Gleason, long the staunchest advocate of the power of the WVU offense, reaps the rewards this week by being closest to WVU's 62-point outburst. Jane Donovan is hot on Bill's heels, trailing by just two points.
Through some sort of communications foul-up, Cam Huffman's pick didn't make it in by the deadline last week. However, in the spirit of a good win in week one, his pick of a WVU win is being allowed. However, he will be assigned a score of one point worse than the bottom picker from week one. That keeps rookie predictor Jeff Mason out of the basement – at least for this week.
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 15|
|Marshall is inexperienced in its running game and its quarterback QB is the weakest in over a decade. The defense cannot stop the run. WVU can run and will pressure Bernard Morris into several of his regular mistakes. Don't leave your seats or you might miss a big play.|
|Pick: West Virginia 65-10|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 17|
Most of the people (maybe even everyone but me) who offer fearless predictions give thoughtful, articulate analyses of game day scenarios, personnel, opponent schemes, and such things. They read tea leaves and they do it well. I've always assumed that my job in this feature is to be the resident smart aleck who writes something funny -- or at least tries to -- that sums up the Mountaineer Nation's hopes and feelings for the next game.
I am taking that job description in a more serious vein this week. There will be no jokes, no puns, no attempts at humor, for this game is deadly serious business. I am generally a pretty nice person who just wants everybody to get along, be happy, hold hands, and sing "Kum bah yah," but not this week. I don't like playing Marshall. I resent having the game forced upon us. It's costing us money, big money, in terms of lost opportunities. Even if everything goes our way and we run the table, this game may cost us a shot at a national championship because it harms our strength of schedule.
I don't want any messing around this Saturday, even if we are playing before half the student body wakes up. I want a big win and I want it now. And then I want the broken buffalos to slink up I-79 to the Blue Lot where they will be cooked on the grills of the Blue and Gold Faithful. And at that point, I hope Rich and company are still on the field going for a two-point conversion.
|Pick: West Virginia 72-10|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 24|
West Virginia and Marshall get together in Huntington for the first time since the Model T was the hottest car on the lot. It should be a great
atmosphere at Joan C. Edwards Stadium as the first sellout crowd in Marshall's history (due in large part to WVU) will pack the seats to
watch the second game of this seven-game series.
Expect a lot of raw emotion for the Herd in the beginning. And expect West Virginia to deflate said emotion within the first half thanks to several big plays. The basketball series between these schools has been interesting in the past few years, but in football, pure talent and physical supremacy ultimately conquers all else. The greenies have been wishing for a home game against WVU for years. What's the saying? Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true.
|Pick: West Virginia 66-10|
|David Velegol||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 26|
|As a Cincinnati Bengal fan I have an enormous dislike for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I've always respected that their fans will dominate opposing team's stadiums. I believe it has a very demoralizing effect on the home team. It is well-documented that West Virginia travels well, but for this game West Virginia will seat 30-40% of the stadium. Marshall's confidence is likely already low based upon the Miami loss, and if West Virginia is able to jump on the Herd their fans will begin hitting the exit gates early. That will be too much for Marshall team to overcome. I realize that the players play the game, but I've been to enough road games where the West Virginia players and the fans start feeding off of each other -- and the home team ends up looking very dejected.|
|Pick: West Virginia 55-17|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 30|
|If WVU makes early mistakes and allows Marshall to hang around, the Herd could feed off the crowd and make this contest interesting (think of recent basketball games in this series). But if the Mountaineers go out and take care of business, this shouldn't be that close.|
|Pick: West Virginia 49-14|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 34|
The divide between the two state schools simply continues to grow, this time into the professional realm. Marshall's utter disdain for anything WVU apparently kept it from even mentioning the all-time series with the No. 4 Mountaineers in its pregame media notes, save to point out that "Marshall held a lead in the fourth quarter before losing 42-31" in 1997 and that WVU "managed" a 92-6 win the last - and only - time it played in Huntington in 1915. Managed? Yeah, it managed that win like Marshall "managed" to stay in an 86-point game. Like former head coach Bob Pruett "managed" to have any solid reasoning whatsoever in past actions. There's no all-time series rundown, no information on the last outing. That's something West Virginia does for every foe, even ones that lead it in the all-time series. Let me be clear: That's garbage. The tower pass (the play Marshall scored on to avoid a shutdown that would come in the next series game, an 81-0 beat down in 1923) gets multiple paragraphs of mention, yet there's nothing when it comes to real facts and stats. Ridiculous.
On to the game. West Virginia ran for 312 yards last year in an easy 42-10 win. It will top that this year. Marshall can have all the emotion it wants. It can have a big, emotional cakewalk right down 5th street and it won't make a lick of difference. Two words: Slaton and White. The duo makes the Herd look even sillier than in the past, if that's possible.
|Pick: West Virginia 92-6|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 35|
|While the Thundering Herd looks to be improved from last season and has a chance at a winning season, the Big Green does not have the athletes to compete with the Mountaineers this season.|
|Pick: West Virginia 49-17|
|Jeff Mason||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 42|
|Former WVU linebacker great Steve Dunlap--now the Herd's defensive coordinator--finds a way to slow down the Mountaineers' tsunami wave of offense (but just for a brief eye blink) and Larry Kueck's ("O" coordinator) offense actually outscores WVU 13-7 in the fourth quarter. Marshall fans are truly ecstatic when MU goes in front 3-0 in the first quarter, but the Mountaineers are way too good for the upset. Slaton gets 150 and White over 200 yards of total offense as WVU scores 34 unanswered points to take a 34-3 lead into the fourth quarter. Jarrett Brown leads WVU's last TD drive while Marshall scores two touchdowns in the last seven minutes of the contest. Sorry Herd fans but Coach Rod didn't want to show it all-- not with a challenging Big East schedule and the Terps waiting in College Park in only five days.|
|Pick: West Virginia 41-16|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 43|
West Virginia may have a dominant advantage in the series, but they have never had to go to Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Marshall has lost on its home field about as often as USC in recent years, and it has had this game circled on its schedule for over a year. The Herd fans will truly be Thundering, and with the opening-week mistakes cleared up Marshall will be ready to pull the upset and claim the state title.
I had you for a minute, didn't I? Marshall has no chance whether they play this game in Morgantown, Huntington or Mexico City.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-10|