Fearless Picks: West Virginia - Villanova

It's a brand new year, a clean slate, and some new faces in BlueGoldNews.com's Fearless Picks for the 2008 season.


Kudos and props to whoever won last year. It's been so long ago, I've forgotten. I'm sure the winner will remind us next week.


The dreaded bottom rung of the prediction ladder is still open. With everyone going with WVU this week, point differential will determine who gets some jabs next week. Now, on to the picks and rationales.

Greg Hunter Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
Villanova is a solid I-AA program, but there's a big different between playing in the Colonial Athletic Conference and a BCS league. If West Virginia is truly a top 10 team, it has little trouble with the Wildcats on Saturday. And it's hard to believe 'Nova can match-up with the likes of Pat White and Noel Devine.
Pick: West Virginia 49-10
David Velegol Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: -
David sent me a write-up. It was a good one too. But somehow I failed to copy it into this space. So, David gets some slack this week, and I get some deserved abuse.
Pick: West Virginia 55-6
Bill Gleason Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
WVU gets a tougher first half fight than many expect from the 17th ranked FCS Wildcats. Despite that, the Mountaineers work out the kinks of running the new motions and sets in their offense and put the game away before the end of the third quarter. White has a big day through the air and four players rush for over 50 yards with Noel Devine passing 100 in the first half.
Pick: West Virginia 55-17
Cam Huffman Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
West Virginia's success against Villanova and head coach Jay Wright has been limited in recent years. The Wildcats' athletic guards and their aggressive style of defense have created nightmares for the Mountaineers, and their big men are more than capable of taking over the paint when necessary. Last season's 78-56 drubbing at the Pavilion was especially disappointing to WVU, which seemed to be coming together prior to that road trip.

What? This is supposed to be about football? Does 'Nova even have a football team? In that case, this one won't be close. Villanova will need a lot more than a tailored suit and some smooth talking to beat the Mountaineers on the gridiron.

Pick: West Virginia 41-10
Matt Keller Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
A motion offense, a new head coach and a fresh start after past success. It reads like the offseason recipe for West Virginia's 2007 men's basketball team. And though at least one of our predictors is already looking ahead to November and a sport he alleges is more worthy - "You don't blow your season with one bad game" - there's the pesky task of dethroning him during football season. It starts here, perhaps, with a look inside the first game. As often noted here, talent trumps most everything else, and the Mountaineers have too much of it for Villanova. Despite the similarities and an opposing quarterback who is better than most WVU fans expect, 'Nova's lack of match-up speed, depth problems and sheer scholarship numbers will wear on it. It's close for the first 20 minutes, then WVU blows it open despite some miscues from a newly-styled offense. It's 1-0, and headed to Greenville for a difficult road game.
Pick: West Virginia 35-10
Chris Richardson Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
Just as there are plenty of new faces around the WVU football program, the same can be said for the staff picks contest here at BlueGoldNews.com. However, just as the familiar face of Pat White returns for what could be his best season yet, the face of yours truly can say the same here on BGN.

OK, so maybe I got a little bit carried away last season in the picks, choosing against the Mountaineers nearly as many times as I chose them to win. In no small part to this paralysis by analysis, I finished dead last in the picks. That being said, don't think for a minute that I'm going to let a bunch of rookies get in the way of my final run at glory. Even with last season's debacle, I've still won two out of the past three fictitious crowns.

Obviously, I don't have many thoughts on the game against Villanova. The Mountaineers need not get too carried away on either side of the ball this week as they are vastly superior to the Wildcats in every area. My only question is whether or not Nova head coach Andy Talley can outdress his basketball counterpart at the Philly-area school. Jay Wright is always dressed to the nines as he paces up and down the bench at The Pavillion. Is Talley cut from the same dapper cloth?

And speaking of sideline fashions, wouldn't Bill Stewart look right at home in a shirt and tie for his WVU regular season debut? Man, I can't wait until the real games start next week against East Carolina.

Pick: West Virginia 45-17
Andy Easton Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
The Wildcats are 2-4 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams this decade, with the two wins coming against a pair of 1-11 teams -- Rutgers and Temple. Don't look for that record to improve on Saturday against the speedy Mountaineers. Coach Bill Stewart will lead the Gold and Blue onto Mountaineer Field for the first time as head coach and will top the overmatched Wildcats.
Pick: West Virginia 42-13
Jane Donovan Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
Villanova has a football team?

Oh. Hadn't noticed.

It's always good for a team with serious ambitions to have a first game that allows them the opportunity to work out the kinks -- there are always kinks -- and get used to the sound of 60,000 screaming fans before moving into the heavier part of the schedule. It will be especially helpful for Reed Williams to get the extra rehab time before testing his shoulder in combat. I'm still not convinced Reed will play this year, but he seems determined so the extra week is a very good thing for him.

However: this isn't just about working out the kinks and resting Reed. It's about starting a season in which a lot of folks wearing blue and gold have a lot to prove. Complacency is not acceptable. The Ann Arbor Aristocrats offered an object lesson with their ugly loss to the Other Mountaineers this time last year. Bill Stewart is not just the local-boy-made-good-nice-guy. He's a wise old fox. He'll have them ready. Pat White makes the ESPN highlights and Noel Devine pastes 150 yards on Nova before Stew rests him and gives the backup RB candidates a chance to claim the job.

Pick: West Virginia 35-10
Patrick Curry Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
There is too much speed and talent on both ends of the ball for Villanova to handle. The biggest difference in this game, as will be the case in most games, is Pat White. I don't think I need to ramble off his credentials but if you put White and Devine behind the experience of the offensive line this offense will be difficult to stop for even the best defenses in the country. The offense may be working out some kinks but I look for the added motion and passing downfield to make this offense even more dynamic.
Pick: West Virginia 35-10
Taylor Jones Last Week: - Season: 0-0 Pt Diff:-
I think that the Mountaineers are going to blow the Villanova Wildcats out of the water this week in their opening game at Mountaineer Field. With all due respect to Nova, I don't predict the Wildcats to be much competition to the Mountaineers with the likes of Pat White, Noel Devine, and an experienced offensive line. On top of the mismatch of talent, Mountaineer Field is a difficult place to play, and I expect Mountaineer fans to be out in the masses to support new head coach Bill Stewart.
Pick: West Virginia 38-10

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