Fearless Picks: WVU - Miss. St.

Can the Bulldogs spring the upset on the road? Check in with the BlueGoldNews.com staff to get their views.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Chris tried to get a headstart on a second half run by missing WVU's win over the Orange by just six points. Cam, despite another tardy entry, missed the final score by just seven, but the pick was certainly diminished by his disregard for stated deadlines. Fortunately, he does not publish his newspaper in the same manner. Meanwhile, Greg zooms into the lead after besting David by 12 points in the Cuse game.


NOSE PICKING

Bill, whose enthusiasm for West Virginia's scoring has soured in recent weecks (four consecutive picks in the thirties from Bill is like a Hillary endorsement from Rush Limbaugh), has dropped behind all but Matt (whose vanity pick of 92-6 over Marshall still holds the lead in funniest and most on-target commentary of the year).


Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 102
Despite the fact that MSU coach Sylvester Croom has no luck in keeping his quarterbacks healthy, his program is showing signs of making positive strides. Still, a rested Mountaineer squad coming off an open date should be hungry to jump back into action.
Pick: West Virginia 31-14
 
David Velegol Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 112
Mississippi has played good competition this year in LSU, Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee and should be battled tested. Problem is MSU really doesn't do much to excite you on offense as they have used three starting quarterbacks this year and it shows as they average only 143.7 passing yards a game. Anthony Dixon is a nice back, but West Virginia plays the run well. With the week off for West Virginia it will be interesting to see how Coach Rodriguez tweaks the offense. My bet is Steve Slaton will see the ball more and carrying close to 25 carries.
Pick: West Virginia 45-10
 
Jeff Mason Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 118
West Virginia has won 11 of its last 13 home games and has averaged over 40 points per game in those 11 wins. West Virginia also holds a 7-4 won-loss record coming off a bye week. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has only won five of its last 25 road games (although two of those wins came this year at Tulane and on the home turf of the powerful Auburn Tigers). Yet Bulldog RB Dixon and QB Carroll may give Slaton and White/Brown a run for the money. This will be a much tighter game than Danny Sheridan's 24-point spread in favor of WVU. Mississippi State will hold Coach Rod's squad under its 40+ scoring average but the Mountaineer "D" continues its improved play and holds Coach Croom's team under 20 points.
Pick: West Virginia 31-16
 
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 120
The Mountaineers are looking to go undefeated in their out-of-conference schedule for the second year in a row, while the Bulldogs are looking for a signature win for MSU head coach Sylvester Croom.

The Bulldogs are probably the second best team that the Blue and Gold has faced, but it's a home game that will finish under the lights. Sorry Sylvester, you have no chance.

Pick: West Virginia 31-17
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 127
West Virginia has spent about as much time at home as a traveling salesman so far in the 2007 regular season. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has made strides on the road, with a big win over Auburn in SEC play certainly something for Bulldog fans to boast about.

The MSU program is improving under Sylvester Croom, with the most encouraging signs for the future being the play of freshman quarterback Wesley Carroll and sophomore running back Anthony Dixon. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it's going to take a heck of a big bite to pull off an upset in Morgantown. The State defense will keep things close for most of the game, but the points will be few and far between for Croom and Company.

Pick: West Virginia 31-13
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 142
Picking this game with my mind and not my heart is even tougher than usual. Living in the South, I get sick to my stomach constantly hearing how wonderful the SEC is and how nobody from any other conference should even play college football. Fortunately I always have the Sugar Bowl to fall back on, but another destruction of an SEC member would make my weekend and maybe even my entire fall. It is for that reason that I am tempted to come on here and predict a 65-0 thrashing, the result that I would love to see. But having watched the Bulldogs a couple of times this year, I am convinced that they are a better team than the one that West Virginia played last year, and I have little doubt that they will not be intimidated by the Homecoming atmosphere in Morgantown. West Virginia, rested and hungry, will not have any real trouble getting the victory, but it won't be a blowout by any means.
Pick: West Virginia 25-14
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 148
The Mountaineers come off a much needed off week. The question isn't really whether Pat White will try to play through his injury. The real question is, should Coach Rodriguez let him?

Given two experienced back-ups with proven track records as winners, the wise thing would be to give White another week of rest to prepare for the conference slate. But I'm just another one of those guys who doesn't know anything about football.

Mississippi State quietly believes they have the talent and speed to shut down the West Virginia offense. And a look back at the 2006 match-up, beyond the final score, should give some indication that the Bulldogs had quite a bit of success slowing down the Mountaineer attack. In the end I still believe WVU has too many horses, even without White. And the WVU defense appears to be improving with every appearance on the field. The nation's #4 total defense takes the field against a true freshman quarterback and an efficient, if unspectacular offense.

The Mountaineers get more of a fight than they bargain for and pull away late, similar to last year.

Pick: West Virginia 38-17
 
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 5-1 Pt Diff: 174
Mississippi State is vastly improved in head coach Sylvester Croom's three seasons. No longer the untalented, undisciplined team of 2005, the Bulldogs are competing well and beginning to develop enough depth and raw skill to compete with most foes. The defense front will be as good as any West Virginia has faced, and the skill and physicality figure to compare. But the Mountaineers simply have better players. To borrow a commonly used phrase from Blue and Gold News owner and publisher Greg Hunter, it's not usually Xs and Os, but the players that make the scheme - and team. WVU will consistently run the ball and, unlike in last season's 41-14 victory in Starkville that took 3.5 quarters to secure, the Mountaineers punch in three times in the first half, then ease into a solid, if not spectacular, win. The defense will totally stuff MSU's power running attack, and force the average offense to beat it through the air. The game will be much close than some think, and pushing the 24-point spread could prove difficult. But, once again, No. 9 West Virginia is the better team. It must play like it to sweep the nonconference slate for a second straight season.
Pick: West Virginia 37-17

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