PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
David and Greg separated themselves a bit from the pack in the race for second place, but Andy retains his one game lead. That won't change this week, but the upcoming schedule will likely give the peleton a few chances to overtake Andy in the standings. Cam and Jane take home the weekly award, as each missed the Mountaineer-Scarlet Knight final by just six points.
No one had a back pick this week as the lower-scoring WVU offense continued to produce a much easier target to zero in on. Will there be any breakout picks for the Mountaineer offense this week, or will the point totals in the twenties continue to be the norm?
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 4-1||Pt Diff: 95|
. Not much to discuss about this game. At this point West Virginia is an average team, but the Orange are just plan horrible. Can you remember the last time that the Mountaineers lost to our fluorescent friends to the north? The year was 2001. George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV and the average price for a gallon of gas was $1.69.
The Orange have about as much of a chance of beating the Blue and Gold as the price of a gallon of gas ever seeing $1.69 again.
|Pick: West Virginia 38-13|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 86|
|West Virginia has won the last three games against Syracuse at Mountaineer Field by an average of 24 points a game. Robinson (8-32) is almost certainly on his way out at SU, and it's hard to believe he can rally his troops for just their third road win in 17 trips away from the Salt City since he took over in 2005, which includes only one Big East road victory – at Louisville last year.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-13|
|David Velegol||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 86|
|The key -- how focused will the West Virginia team be? WVU appears to be gaining some offensive chemistry, but this isn't the time to start relaxing. The Syracuse program is a shadow of its former self, as it ranks in ESPN's Bottom 10. I am looking forward to seeing QB Cameron Dantley, son of basketball Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley. Cameron has a QB rating of 132.81 so he appears solid. But that won't be nearly enough.|
|Pick: West Virginia 44-13|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff:101|
While the jury is still out on West Virginia's football fortunes in
2008, the verdict in the case of Syracuse has already been reached,
read over by the judge and announced for all of college football to
hear: they're bad.
This is an important week for the Mountaineers. If they struggle against a vastly inferior opponent such as the Orange, then it becomes much harder to imagine them competing for the conference title, even in the wide-open Big East. Win big, though, and perhaps the swagger and style that has been noticeably absent in the season's opening month returns with a venegance.
This game marks the halfway point of the season. I say they get it done with a few style points, but I don't say that with a whole lot of confidence.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-13|
|Patrick Curry||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 105|
|Many people think this game should be a pushover for West Virginia. They are right -- it should be. However, there are a few causes for concern. The first is the running game of Syracuse. If the Orange can break a couple long runs and control the ball they can keep it close. Second, this could be a potential trap game for West Virginia, which should be careful to not get caught looking ahead to Auburn. Third, Syracuse is getting better -- just ask Pitt. If it weren't for18 fourth quarter points by the Panthers, Syracuse would have won that game. This game should go West Virginia's way, but it's not a game to take lightly.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-13|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 108|
|Just as the Ernie Davis movie comes along to remind us of Syracuse's glory days, the crushed Orange continue to drag out "The Greg Robinson Farewell Tour." Put the poor guy out of his misery already and admit to Paul Pasqualoni that you done him wrong. I suppose this extended catastrophe is retributive justice for the Marvin Graves debacle, but a more timely punishment would have been preferable. Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of Syracuse, but their present state is not in the best interests of the Big East.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-10|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 111|
|I'd hate, like a colleague, to put a numerical amount on something best assessed by execution judgment. Reaching 30 points, 400 yards of offense or 200 yards rushing is a solid milestone and often leads to success. But not directly. The truer measure of success is executing in key situations, those that indeed cause true changes in outcome. A second down play call at Colorado, a third down call versus Rutgers, lining up under center when past results have dictated better future successes in percentage. A squib kick here, a tiresome stretch play there. No staff is beyond ridicule. There's certainly a time for catching foes by surprise via solid reasoning and a selection of calls based upon information available. West Virginia's staff has yet to find quality consistency within these realms. If they appear to reach such status against Syracuse, the game will be a segue, a means to an end termed ‘success.' If they don't – even should WVU win by more than 20 points – the game won't mean much more than another chalk line in the victory column. There's a larger aspect West Virginia, the state, the fan base, and the university's team, is striving toward here. Mere football numerals, like most else for which they're utilized, only term and categorize that which most incorrectly assume can be truly judged by such calculations.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-13|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 113|
|The Orangemen used to put a sinking feeling in my stomach when I saw them on the schedule. Syracuse was always a tough out, and more often than not the men in orange always came up with a play when they needed it most. Lately, though, the only feeling the Orange have provided me with is nausea when I have watched their displays on the gridiron. This week, though, SU gives me a sense of relief, as it may be exactly what WVU needs to build its confidence as it heads into the heart of Big East Conference play. Thanks 'Cuse!|
|Pick: West Virginia 33-14|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: W||Season: 3-2||Pt Diff: 129|
|Syracuse is struggling pretty bad this season, soI don't see them being much of a match at all for the Mountaineers. West Virginia is finally getting in sync on all sides of the ball, and hopefully this game will be an easy victory where the team can work on those things more than griniding for a win. I'm hoping this will be an easy W for the Mountaineers because they're going to need some confidence going into the Auburn game.|
|Pick: West Virginia 42-7|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 2-3||Pt Diff: 148|
The Mountaineers go for their school-record seventh straight win in a series with Syracuse that still sees WVU six games in arrears over time.
This isn't your grandpappy's Syracuse team. This is an improved Syracuse team that can move the ball and on occasion stop the other team from moving the ball.
Meet West Virginia, a team that seems to invent ways every week to stop itself on offense. People like to rail on offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen for his playcalling, and he deserves some criticism, but a chop block here, a missed assignment there, a false start here, a dropped pass there and the offense turns a touchdown drive into a punt in enemy territory seemingly every week. This is the sixth game of the season. New terminology, new personnel, new coaching staff all should be shelved as excuses from here on out. The school that leads the Big East annually on the conference's academic all-conference team should be able to pick things up after two months and five games.
Meanwhile, the WVU defense continues to improve. While certainly not a reincarnation of the 1996 WVU unit, this Mountaineer defense is 25th in the country in scoring defense at 16.4 points per game. Quite frankly, if you'd have told me in the preseason that the defense would give up an average of 16 per game I'd have told you WVU was undefeated and have a margin of victory of at least two touchdowns per game.
It's time for WVU to step on the gas pedal. But until I see some point production, my high score predictions are on the shelf. If it isn't better than my pick, it isn't going to be pretty for the rest of the season.
|Pick: West Virginia 24-13|