Fearless Picks: West Virginia - East Carolina

Does anyone think that East Carolina's defense, which has given West Virginia big problems the past two years, is good enough to help the Pirates spring an upset?


David has a slim lead over the boss and Andy is within striking distance after one-quarter of this year's regular season games, while Jeff's eight-point miss of the WVU-Maryland contest gives him top honors for the week.


Cam's 33-point miss puts him close to the basement, despite Matt's boutique score picks, while Bill's faith in the WVU offense caused a sizeable gap in his predicted outcome as well.

David Velegol Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 49
Very average Southern Miss and North Carolina teams were able to score against East Carolina, which should indicate West Virginia should be able to put points on the board. ECU's offense is really one-dimensional with QB Patrick Pinkney, as it has difficulties running the ball. WVU's run defense is solid and it will allow the defensive backs to focus on the pass. Look for 2-3 picks by the Mountaineers.
Pick: West Virginia 47-17
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 51
If WVU indeed struggles to run the football effectively against the Pirates this season as well, this will also be a tough battle, just like the last two. But that WVU ground game may be even tougher to contain than in the past.
Pick: West Virginia 31-14
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 64
Not since Kay-Jay Harris' 337-yard rushing outburst against East Carolina in 2003 has a Mountaineer team rushed for more the 160 yards against the purple-clad Pirates (127 yards in 2004 and 153 yards in 2005). During ECU's first three games, only one running back has gained more then 100 yards -- last week against Southern Miss when Damion Fletcher rushed for 111.

After Saturday's game you can add another name to that list, Steve Slaton, and you can mark it down that WVU will rush for more than 200 yards. The Pirates might slow the Gold and Blue for the first half but not for the whole game.

Pick: West Virginia 41-20
Jeff Mason Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 64
Rich Rodriguez will prevent his team from looking past East Carolina for Payback Game I a week later at USF by reminding his team that two years ago, WVU barely edged the Pirates 20-15 in Morgantown. ECU scores first but WVU (11-0 all-time versus East Carolina in Morgantown) is unstoppable. Coach Rod's squad routs Skip Holtz's team as Patrick White has his first 200-yard passing game of 2007.
Pick: West Virginia 51-17
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 65
The men from "G-Vegas" come to Morgantown looking for the biggest victory of the Skip Holtz era. In the past two years, the Pirates have given West Virginia a better game then just about everyone else, and have also shown the ability to consistently stop the powerful Mountaineer running attack. That's the good news for the Pirates.

The bad news is that this West Virginia offense is better -- or at least more diverse -- than the 2005 and 2006 teams that East Carolina defended so well. Steve Slaton and Pat White have been productive in the early going, and Darius Reynaud is playing the best football of his career. Add to the mix the emergence of freshman Noel Devine, and an offensive line that is beginning to jell, and suddenly the match-up doesn't look so good for the purple and gold. Pee Dee the Pirate won't have much to cheer about in this one.

Pick: West Virginia 38-17
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 75
West Virginia walks into its annual slugfest with East Carolina with memories of two straight years of a defense shutting down the Mountaineer offense. Look for another frustrating slugfest if Coach Rodriguez doesn't open things up and discover that the passing game can actually include throws BEYOND the line of scrimmage.

The Pirates will continue to key on Slaton and they'll spy Patrick White. Noel Devine and Darius Reynaud will be the beneficiaries but Dorrell Jalloh and Tito Gonzalez should also see the ball in their hands as well. Also look for Jock Sanders to get more reps in the backfield this week to spell Devine and Slaton against the physical Pirates. Owen Schmitt breaks another facemask and the Mountaineers pull away late

Pick: West Virginia 38-17
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 75
It's ECU Pirates week. Ahoy, matey. Shiver me timbers and all that. East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz (son of the dreaded Lou Holtz, W. Va. native and obnoxious commentator extraordinaire) seems to be developing a side career as Acting Assistant Coach for Defensive Strategy against the Mountaineers for all teams on our schedule. Every newspaper or Internet article about a WVU opponent takes time to discuss Skip Holtz's role as guru to Those Who Must Play WVU. You'd think he was a flipping defensive genius, with a Ph.D. in Shutting Down the WVU Running Game.

Last time I checked, he was 0-2 against the Mountaineers. Sure, they gave us a little scare last year, but this is football. Pirate-related scares don't count -- unless Johnny Depp is involved.

Pick: West Virginia 35-24
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 95
Pick: West Virginia
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 117
East Carolina has held foes to 86 yards per game on the ground. West Virginia is totaling more than 500 per outing, 343 rushing. It appears that the Mountaineers, who struggled each of the last two seasons to establish the run game, are more willing to try power sets and can hand the ball to more than one surefire back. Steve Slaton should no longer wear down if pressed into 27-32 carries, and backup Noel Devine can add a burst and open field cutting unseen in even the Heisman candidate. If the Pirates can contain this duo with WVU's line playing even an average game, ECU deserves the win. It reads here it won't happen, however.
Pick: West Virginia 38-17

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