Fearless Picks: West Virginia - Connecticut

The oddsmakers don't think much of Connecticut's chances to knock off West Virginia. What does the Blue & Gold News staff think?


Jeff and Andy share weekly honors (and take the sole bragging points away from Bill and Chris), by missing last week's Cincinnati game by just three points. Matt, despite the vanity pick of the year, moved into striking distance of Cam and Bill with just three games to go.


Chris, Chris, Chris. How could you put the winning of this contest over a well-thought out selection? You are hereby appointed the Woody Paige of the Blue & Gold News. (Chris's Rebuttal: At least I make a pick, unlike the man who publishes this site.)

Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 9-1 Pt Diff: 153
A Big East title and a BCS berth will go to the WVU/UConn winner. It's hard to believe WVU will let such an opportunity slip away in front of a hungry Mountaineer Field crowd against a good but not great Huskie squad.
Pick: West Virginia 41-14
David Velegol Last Week: W Season: 9-1 Pt Diff: 164
There really isn't any stat that suggests a 34-point spread. It is just gut feel. UConn has been stingy on defense, giving up an average of 14.3 points a game, and on the flip side West Virginia has had two consecutive close games with turnovers. Coach Rodriguez has this team focused on one goal, the Big East championship, and the team will respond in a big way. Again, there isn't any stat to suggest this, but I believe Steve Slaton will have a monster game.
Pick: West Virginia 44-10
Jeff Mason Last Week: W Season: 9-1 Pt Diff: 182
While there is always the danger of Coach Rod's squad looking ahead to the 100th Backyard Brawl a week hence, this should not be a factor playing a team as strong as UConn. After two close games against the Cards and Bearcats, and with hopefully a packed house of WVU students and fans looking on, the Mountaineers are 'Ready to Rumble' and will bring their "A+" game to Milan Puskar Stadium this Saturday. Last year Connecticut trailed by only three points in the second quarter--but this year West Virginia will bring the heat in all three phases of the game. Pat and Steve will rack up historic numbers as WVU leads by at least three touchdowns at halftime and cruises to a big win. This game will remind WVU fans of the complete and dominating conquest of Rutgers. West Virginia wins comfortably over the Huskies.
Pick: West Virginia 45-16
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 8-1 Pt Diff: 199
The Big East title is on the line. Will it be enough to hold the interest of the Mountaineers? A 17-point favorite at home over a ranked opponent with an opportunity to win your way into the mythical national title game should be enough to get the blood flowing for anyone.
Pick: West Virginia 45-17
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 8-1 Pt Diff: 203
I could go into a deep analysis of why West Virginia is better at this position or that position, why its style matches up well against UConn or why history is on the Mountaineers' side. But there is no reason for all of that. This one is simple. WVU is the better team, it wants to prove that the mistakes of the last couple of weeks meant nothing and there is too much on the line to look ahead to anything. Mountaineer fans will be giving thanks for Patrick White, Steve Slaton and the man who killed all of the meat for the original Thanksgiving feast with his bare hands, Owen Schmitt.
Pick: West Virginia 33-17
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 9-1 Pt Diff: 214
Connecticut appears very capable of staying in the game with West Virginia. It has the linebacker play, the defensive ability to keep the ball in front of it and cut down on the big gain. The Mountaineers haven't finished games of late, and, though not struggling, have not moved the football with the chunks it did last year. In a game of attrition and short gains, WVU's patience will be tested. UConn wants little more than to stay in the game and have a chance to steal it at the end. Only the Mountaineers can provide that opportunity through a series of lackluster offensive plays and defensive miscues.

The home team is more talented and would win this game by Greg Hunter's 41-14 score, perhaps, on paper. West Virginia must push the vertical envelope on its offense it if wishes to move the ball in that direction. Darius Reynaud must press north-south and quit jumping around. And Patrick White needs a bit of help. The defense simply needs to execute and keep Tyler Lorenzen contained. The majority of these things will happen, and the tally will finish somewhere between Hunter's walk and Andy Easton's bitter 28-24 fistfight. It's too difficult to beat the Mountaineers at home at night.

Pick: West Virginia 35-20
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 8-2 Pt Diff: 179
The Mountaineers match up well against the upstart Huskies from the Nutmeg State. The strength of the Husky offensive attack istheir rushing game, which collides with the excellent run defense of West Virginia's 3-3-5 formation. On the flip side, the Huksy defense boasts the 17th-ranked passing defense, while the Mountaineers will counter with their usual run-dominated attack.

I'll admit, on paper this game looks like a blowout, but somehow the Huskies have managed to stay in 10 of their 11 games until the end. While WVU has superior talent, the fear is that the offense will continue to shoot itself in the foot and keep the game close throughout.

Pick: West Virginia 28-24
Chris Richardson Last Week: L Season: 7-3 Pt Diff: 181
It's going to be really weird not being able to listen to or watch most of this game. I've set up shop in North Jersey for West Virginia's weekend trip to the Legends Classic, marking the first time I have missed a Mountaineer home game since 2004, and only the third time since 1993.

Not that I'll be missing much. Connecticut has had a great run, but it will end in Morgantown. The Huskies have no chance in this one, and will be lucky to even have a sniff in the second half. They could have a wideout with the all-around talent of Emeka Okafor, a quarterback with the smarts of Ricky Moore, and a defensive lineman with the appetite of Khalid El-Amin, and it wouldn't help one bit. Randy Edsall has done a great job, and deserves to be the Big East coach of the year. But he won't be the coach of the Big East champions.

West Virginia makes a statement from start to finish in front of its hometown crowd.

Pick: West Virginia 52-10

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