PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
David and Greg sprint to the top of the standings with good picks, but Andy takes the weekly honors, missing the WVU-MU score by just seven points.
While Matt Keller's off target pick dropped him to last place in the standings, he should be saluted for making a score selection last week that most accurately reflected the Herd's vast inferiority complex when it comes to all things WVU. Were gold stars or bonus points awarded in this contest, Matt would be lapping the field.
|David Velegol||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 39|
|According to Vegas, the home team gets three points for home field advantage. I believe that for Thursday night games, that number is more like 12. This will be hard-fought game, and I'd bet that Ralph Friedgen has this one circled on his calendar.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-20|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 40|
|Maryland always presents a tough test for WVU, but the Terps haven't slowed down WVU run game the past two seasons, and there's no reason to think this year will be any different.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-21|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 42|
Rich Rodriguez meets Ralph Friedgen for the eighth time in seven seasons. Maryland and the Fridge lead that series four games to three, and something tells me that Rodriguez wants to even that record in a bad way. The importance of this game is magnified by the fact that Maryland has asked for a two-season reprieve from the series, so the winner of this game will carry bragging rights for at least two-plus years.
Look for Friedgen to unleash the Terrapin passing attack on WVU's suspect secondary, while Coach Rodriguez' rushing attack will try to top 300 yards for the fourth straight game. Which coach will succeed? In Rod I Trust.
|Pick: West Virginia 35-32|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 45|
In what is thought to be West Virginia's first real defensive test, the Maryland Terrapins bring a 2-0 record into the 2007 matchup off of two pedestrian victories over inferior opponents. The key to Maryland's offensive production will undoubtedly be QB Jordan Steffy. He completes a stellar 75% of his passes, but his 49 attempts have gone for a mere 309 yards (5.6 per attempt). While this might not sound very impressive, the short passing game has been a bugaboo for the Mountaineers since the inception of the 3-3-5 defense's installation in Morgantown.
Maryland's defense has been stellar, holding their opponents to a total of 175 yards per game total offense. The Terps have allowed a TOTAL of 93 yards rushing in two games. Meanwhile, WVU rolls in off a surprising wake-up call from Marshall and a defense that forced the Mountaineers to change their tactics a bit to open up the ground game before blowing open a close contest. Look for some different formations for WVU this week and a larger role for super-frosh Noel Devine as he will be brought in to keep the Maryland defense honest, ala Avon Cobourne and Quincy Wilson in 2002.
While defenses are lining up to stop Steve Slaton, Pat White is not so quietly tearing up every defense he sees, and his passing continues to improve to the point where defenses will pay for stacking eight or nine men in the box. There is only one reason this offense will struggle, and that is the stubbornness of its head coach. If Coach Rodriguez opens things up a bit and takes the deep middle that opponents are giving Pat White, the ESPN highlights might more resemble a video game.
|Pick: West Virginia 52-23|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 54|
Q. How many Mountaineers does it take to open The Fridge?
A. None. The Fridge opens all by himself and needs no help putting the groceries away.
Q. How many years will it take the Mountaineer Faithful to forgive Scotty McBrien?
Q. How many lame references will we see to "turtle soup" among the Fearless Predictions this week?
Q. In what quarter will the WVU offense show up for this game?
Q. How many points does it take to beat Maryland?
|Pick: West Virginia 42-24|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 55|
This game has made me uber-nervous for several months. When the Terps
and Mountaineers get together, you can throw out the records more
often than not. Nothing would make Ralph Friedgen and company happier
than a big win over West Virginia in the final game of the series
prior to a two-year hiatus.
Make no mistake about it, West Virginia will get Maryland's best shot. Remember when highly-rated Virginia Tech came to Morgantown for a midweek game in 2003? Those Hokies had more talent than Rich Rodriguez's Mountaineer squad that year, but the blue and gold won the game by hitting VT in the mouth. In the UM-WVU matchup, the Mountaineers clearly have more talent. But will they have the focus from the get-go to win in a hostile atmosphere? That remains to be seen. West Virginia better not piddle around like it did in the first half against Marshall last weekend. If it does, the Mountaineers could be heading back to Morgantown with a loss.
That being said, I can't in my right mind pick Maryland.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-24|
|Jeff Mason||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 56|
|Maryland is just 1-4 the last four years on Thursday night, while the Mountaineers consider Thursday Night Lights as Almost Heaven---even in College Park, Maryland! WVU scores on its first possession and the "D" finally plays up to its ability, holding the Terps under two touchdowns as turnovers loom big for Ralph Friedgen's team. The Mountaineers get a surprisingly easy win to make it four in a row for WVU in the Border Beltway Battle.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-10|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 62|
While every Mountaineer fan, and ESPN analyst for that matter, is circling the Louisville and Rutgers games on their pocket schedules, this game may be one of the more difficult tests of the season for many reasons. Although College Park will not be mistaken for Morgantown anytime soon, it is not an easy place to play, especially on Thursday night with a fired-up crowd ready to put its dart in the center of the target on West Virginia's back. The short week also presents a challenge, as even the best WVU clubs have struggled to slow down Ralph Friedgen offenses over the years. Finally, the Terps are spitting venom after the embarrassing loss they suffered on national television when they came to Morgantown last year.
All that being said, intangibles usually only play a small part in the final outcome, and more times than not the team with the best players comes out on top. Not many will argue that West Virginia has the better athletes, especially on offense. Maryland will keep things interesting with crossing routes and a short passing game that will keep the Mountaineer defense off balance. Outscoring Pat White, Steve Slaton and company, though, is not a task many teams could pull off, and Maryland will be no different. Mountaineer fans will break a sweat, and possibly a few items in their living room, once again, but the night will end on a happy note.
|Pick: West Virginia 48-30|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 2-0||Pt Diff: 95|
West Virginia would seem to fit up reasonably well against the Maryland scheme. The Terps like to run out of base sets in power-I and pro formations, and though they mix in passes to the tight ends and crossing routes - two traditional problems for the odd stack - the straight-up attack is based off a run-first philosophy. That's something WVU has slowed, if not totally stopped, against similar foes. But with nose tackle Keilen Dykes expected to at best take limited snaps along an already thin defensive line, the Mountaineers could struggle to contain the ground game and, thus, get the spread offense enough snaps as Maryland continues its possession dominance -- already at more than 36 minutes per game.
This will be a war of efficiency for both teams. Whichever can turn its plays into points on a regular basis and move the football to avoid turnovers and field position problems will win. This game was thought difficult when the schedule was announced because of time, date and location. It become even harder with Dykes' injury. Maryland hasn't shown much yet, and neither has WVU. Look for the two coaching staffs to empty the playbook if need be. The Mountaineers make enough plays, but just barely.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-33|