Fearless Picks: West Virginia - East Carolina

The first week was easy. Now it gets tougher. If you didn't believe publisher Kevin Kinder when he said the Pirates would be a force to be reckoned with this year, can you hear him now? ECU's win over Virginia Tech, despite the Hokies' sad offense, is still a strong statement. Do any of our pickers fear the point of the Pirates' cutlass?


Chris Richardson gets kudos for taking the early lead in the contest, but gets negative style points for the tired "walk the plank" cliché. Aaaaargh, matey!


Meanwhile, Jane, Matt and Patrick are in a logjam at the bottom of the week one standings. Which one, if any, can begin the climb back to respectability?

Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:7
After tap dancing past Villanova in week one, the Mountaineers face their first real test of the 2008 season in the not-so-friendly confines of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates always provide a tough test for West Virginia, especially in Greenville.

Make no mistake about it: this will be a stiff test for Bill Stewart's Old Gold and Blue. Some of the mistakes, particularly on defense, which plagued the Mountaineers against Villanova will result in the first loss of the season if they happen again this weekend.

Then again, I'm told that football teams make their most improvement between week one and week two. Ultimately, West Virginia has too many weapons for the Pirates. There will be no walking of the plank on this Saturday.

Pick: West Virginia 31-21
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:11
West Virginia faces a much improved ECU program that has steadily improved under Skip Holtz but got a big confidence boost from the major hurdle cleared with the defeat of Virginia Tech.

Most don't realize, thanks to the limited information given in post-game highlights by ESPN, that ECU dominated the game from the start and save for a fumble return for a TD and a blocked extra point for a two point score, the game could have been worse. This is not good for a young West Virginia defense that looked porous at times and dominant in others.

ECU faces an offense that looks almost unstoppable. The one-dimensional offense at West Virginia actually experimented with the invention of the forward pass this past weekend and by all accounts feel that this new age weapon might be something to investigate further.

The bet here is that ECU still sells out to stop the run and forces WVU to win through the air. The wonder here is whether WVU will be able to slow down the Pirate offense enough to allow the offense to take charge. I believe it will. But it won't be easy.

Pick: West Virginia 44-27
Drew Holbrook Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:11
WVU will beat the East Carolina Pirates by no less than 14. The willingness of Bill Stewart to pass the ball to spread out the defense will make ECU play the whole field. The running attack will have a much larger impact than it did against Villanova because Skip Holtz will try and stop Pat White from hooking up with Jock Sanders or Alric Arnett, leaving lots of running lanes for White and Noel Devine.
Pick: West Virginia 34-17
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:12
Rarely has West Virginia had an easy trip to Greenville, though it normally has come away with victories. It would appear that this latest sequel will follow the same script.
Pick: West Virginia 31-24
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:14
Coach Bill Stewart and his lads will have their hands full with the 2008 version of the ECU Pirates. This purple-clad bunch is coming off an impressive win over Virginia Tech and look for their third consecutive upset victory after beating Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl last year.

Since joining the Pirates in 2005, Coach Skip Holtz has improved on the previous season's win total each season. This year looks to be no different, as he has a veteran signal caller in Patrick Pinkney and a experienced defense that starts six seniors and four juniors. The Blue & Gold have won five out of the six games played in Greenville, N.C.,with most being nail biters for Mountaineers fans. This game will come down to one statistic: turnovers. If the Blue and Gold Mountaineers can win the turnover battle, the game is theirs.

Pick: West Virginia 31-28
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:18
East Carolina is a very good football team. Yes, Virginia Tech is a little down, but the Pirates showed Saturday that they have all the tools to compete with any team on their schedule. That being said, I don't think this one will be as close as many have predicted. West Virginia is ready, and they will put more than enough points on the board to put the game away long before the final minutes.
Pick: West Virginia 36-20
Taylor Jones Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:21
Despite the fears of Mountaineer fans after East Carolina's surprising victory over Virginia Tech last week, and with an eye toward Hurricane Hanna, which could be hitting Greenville around game time, I don't see WVU having a hard time against the Pirates. It will be a bigger challenge than Villanova, but I think WVU's offense will do big things. I predict Noel Devine will a bigger part in the game against ECU, and hopefully that will lead to more productivity in the running game. I see it being a bit of a close game, but the Mountaineers will lead throughout.
Pick: West Virginia 35-21
David Velegol Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:22
Vegas generally knows what it's doing, but every once in a while there appears to be the old sucker bet. Everyone is pumped about East Carolina with their success against Virginia Tech and the initial impression was the spot would be close. The spot is 8.5, which would lead me to believe they want you to take East Carolina and the points. Based on this analysis I believe we win by much more than 8.5.
Pick: West Virginia 30-17
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:24
Lou Holtz says: "This is a good East Carolina football team. One thing we have to have, and they have, is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm on the field, enthusiasm off the field, enthusiasm in life. I mean, let me tell ya, Mark, listen, ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose. You'll never get ahead of anyone as long as you try tho get even with him. East Carolina can't try to get even with or beat West Virginia all in one play. It's a play at a time, play after play afte play. That's how you win. Skippy has these Pirates ready to win. This's gonna be a great ballgame, a great ballgame."
Pick: West Virginia 34-21
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:24
East Carolina will be full of spit and vinegar, as well it should be after knocking off Virginia Tech. Live by the blocked punt, die by the blocked punt, I suppose. But Virginia Tech is not West Virginia, although the Mountaineers will have their hands full with the purple Pirates, whose full stadium will contain enough ex-patriate Mountaineer fans to provide more than enough encouragement for the warriors in Gold and Blue. The defense cannot spot East Carolina the first quarter, as they did Villanova, and they must tighten up on pass coverage. With the emergence of Alric Arnett as a serious long-ball threat, the Mountaineers finally have the versatile, full-service offense (and a less stubborn game plan) that will enable them to prevail even when ECU loads up the box, as you know they will.
Pick: West Virginia 35-24
Patrick Curry Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff:24
This game should be a hard-fought, close battle. The talent of WVU and the experience it has on offense should prevail. It will be interesting to see how the defense plays against a much more talented offense. Overall the ability of Patrick White to throw the ball on a weak secondary and the turnovers by East Carolina will be the difference in the game.
Pick: West Virginia 28-17.

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