Fearless Picks: WVU - Marshall

Last week, Andy was the sole competitor to predict the correct winner, which gave him a one game lead in the standings. It's not desperation time yet, so who will analyze the matchups and conclude that the Mountaineers are set for their third consecutive loss?

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Although he certainly wasn't happy about it, Andy's solo pick of a Buff win paid off, as it moved him to the top of the standings. Andy's view that WVU had more problems than it could iron out in 12 days proved to be prophetic, and he bumped Chris out of the top slot he has held down for so long.


NOSE PICKING

Does missing a game by 49 points qualify for this section? I think so. Bill's massive miss dropped him to the bottom of this week's standings. He; however, has bought in to Andy's line of thinking, and could jump right back into the thick of things if WVU isn't able to solve its woes.


Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 2-1 Pt Diff: 56
Ah, yes, it's back again, the annual, for now, Friends of Coal Bowl. This year's game has taken on a bit of a twist as the once powerful Mountaineers have gone from five points away from the National Championship game to just hoping for a win against the upstart Thundering Herd, all in the matter of three games. My, how times have changed. The question regarding games against our friends from the south have gone from 'How much will WVU win by?' to 'Will WVU win?'

The Herd has had an outstanding season to date with victories over Illinois State, Memphis and a solid Southern Mississippi team with the lone loss to the Wisconsin Badgers, a team that the Herd dominated for the first 15 minutes of the game. The Green and White has been lead by two dynamic playmakers on offense, freshman quarterback Mark Cann and senior wideout Darius Passmore, while junior end Albert McClellan and senior safety C.J. Spillman lead the defense.

The bad news for Herd fans is that under Mark Snyder's guidance Marshall is 0-9 versus BCS schools with the average score being 37-12. Also, over the last three seasons Marco's Merry Men own only one victory over a team that finished the season with a winning record -- ECU (8-5) in 2007.

If the Blue and Gold had come into this game undefeated this would be a huge trap team against a solid team, but at 1-2 the Mountaineers will have something to prove. This game will be close but Stew's lads will prevail.

Pick: West Virginia 31-27
 
David Velegol Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 62
The key going forward is the offensive line. The line has struggled the past two games, and if it cannot create the space required for Pat White to do his magic, the Mountaineers will once again struggle. The defense and special teams are looking strong, though, and that should be enough to get the win. However, unless offensive line starts to show some dominance, this game will be a little closer than expected.
Pick: West Virginia 27-17
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 64
This is probably Mark Snyder's best team in his four years at Marshall, though he still has youth at key positions. As said before, this WVU team is a work in progress, but in the end, talent trumps all, and WVU has more of it, but not by as much as in years past.
Pick: West Virginia 28-17
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff:65
The title bestowed upon the annual WVU-Marshall game -- the Friends of Coal Bowl -- could not be more appropriate for this year's tilt. During the season's first month, West Virginia has dug quite the hole for itself, while Mark Snyder's Thundering Herd have proven to be quite the hidden gem.

Saturday's game at Milan Puskar Stadium will be a crossroads for each program. For Marshall, a win over West Virginia could put Snyder's stamp on the program he has worked hard to rebuild after inheriting a mess from former MU boss Bob Pruett. For West Virginia, a loss to the Herd would be the second loss of the season to a Conference USA foe. And if a team can't compete with decent teams from C-USA, how on earth does it plan to compete for a Big East title?

This is the moment, the game when we find out what exactly the Mountaineers are made of. With that in mind, I cannot see Pat White, Reed Williams, Mortty Ivy, Ryan Stanchek and Pat McAfee let their senior season be marred by another ugly defeat. West Virginia finds a way -- any way -- to get the job done against Marshall.

Pick: West Virginia 31-20
 
Patrick Curry Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 66
I understand that West Virginia lost to Colorado last week, but there were some positives to take out of that game. The special teams played exceedingly well with the exception of the missed field goal, and the defense shut down Colorado for the bulk of the contest. On offense WVU certainly ran the ball well enough to win, but more balance is still needed Look for the Mountaineers to get back on track against Marshall as they take advantage of a weak run defense and pick up where they left off against Colorado on defense. Look for more play action out of the Mountaineer offense, especially on third short, which should help to loosen the defense.
Pick: West Virginia 35-17
 
Matt Keller Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 78
Look, West Virginia will win this game. It has played average-leaning-poor in the first few outings, and East Carolina and Colorado on the road are both better than Marshall. It might be close. The Herd might even lead after halftime. But WVU emerges with a reasonable win at home. Could be ugly. It will be uglier if the Mountaineers don't win. If they don't, you won't read another prediction of West Virginia winning under my heading this year. Bill Gleason might already have jumped ship, and picked his old school. I have no additional insight. Just win a game.
Pick: West Virginia 24-20
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 81
The wailing and gnashing of teeth has continued unabated this week, with extra kerosene thrown on that fire by the release of the terms of Stew's contract. Mountaineer Nation: get a grip. One would think we'd never lost a football game in the 100+ years of WVU gridiron action. I still remember the last time we got a new head coach and his 3-8 season and then the terrible start to the second season before the ship got righted. Comparisons of Bill Stewart to Frank Cignetti (who went on to a stellar career at IUP once his health problems were resolved, BTW) and, God help us, Larry Coker, are highly premature. The same people who loudly insisted that only a true, loyal West Virginian should be our coach are now calling him Gomer Pyle. Give me a break. Gomer Pyle was from North Carolina.

Am I the only one who saw dramatic improvement from Games 1 & 2 to Game 3? Lest we forget, once the first, horrifying five minutes were over, WVU's defense held Colorado scoreless for 60 minutes. If that's not a major improvement from the Villanova and ECU games, then I don't know what is. The offense is still worrisome, but you can't keep a good man down forever and Pat White is as good a man as has ever worn the Blue and Gold. He will find a way to win some games, starting this Saturday.

As we all know, this is the Martian Super Bowl although in this part of the state it only amounts to the annual swatting of an extremely annoying fly. The flies will put up a fight, but in the end, superior talent, a superior band, and, most of all, a superior band announcer will reign supreme. Pat McAfee will win the game with a last-minute field goal, and all memories of the two worst days of his young life will melt like marshmallows at a couch burning.

Pick: West Virginia 24-21
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 83
My confidence may have put me in a bad spot in this race, but I'm still not ready to throw in the towel on the Mountaineers. WVU made some major strides last week against Colorado, and it was just a mental breakdown, an inch or two on a kick or one block away from breaking the game open on a number of occasions.

That being said, Bill Stewart and company didn't get it done, and there is certainly cause for concern. I may not know as much as Erin Andrews (at least about skin care and hair styles) or Jesse Palmer (about fashion, that is), but I do know that West Virginia has plenty of talent on the field and some of the most knowledgeable coaches in the business on the sidelines and in the box. That combination, I am convinced, will be the recipe for turning this season around, beginning this weekend back in front of the home fans.

Most of all, though, Marshall is the team on the schedule. I don't care about the football knowledge of their quarterback, the speed or their receivers or the big win over Memphis (this isn't basketball). The Mountaineers don't lose to The Herd on the gridiron.

Pick: West Virginia 33-21
 
Taylor Jones Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 98
Pick: West Virginia
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: L Season: 1-2 Pt Diff: 104
Everyone expected this game to be one team rolling and one team middling along. Nobody expected Marshall to be the team rolling and West Virginia to be the middlers. West Virginia fans are already licking their chops at a tune-up victory over Marshall. Marshall fans are excited to be 2-0 in CUSA for the first time since joining the league.

Two things people need to understand right away: This is a much better Marshall team than West Virginia faced last season. And these aren't the 2007 Mountaineers. If WVU can't stop Cody Slate, Darius Passmore and Darius Marshall, short-yardage offense will be the least of WVU's problems.

You think the natives were restless last week?

Pick: Marshall 27-17

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