PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Greg maintains second place on the basis of points, but everyone is still chasing Andy, who protected his one game lead. Bill learned the lesson of WVU's offense by not picking routine 30-point performances, and thus missed by just 14, taking weekly honors. It wasn't enough to pull him out of the cellar, but a couple more spot-on picks and he'll move up quickly.
David, still thinking this is the 2007 offense, got the win but not much else, missing the final score by 34. That narrowed his edge on the rest of the field, and with five contestants within 17 points of him, things are heating up.
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 123|
|Not much can be said about this one. Before the season started this game was tabbed as one of best matchups of the season. Now, midway through the season, it could be categorized as a snoozer.|
|Pick: Auburn 9-3|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 107|
|These teams are similar on paper. Both feature good defenses, as well as offenses which are struggling. It figures to be a game where a couple big plays will ultimately decide the outcome. If WVU can run the ball, it can win, but few have run successfully on Auburn this year.|
|Pick: Auburn 14-13|
|David Velegol||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 120|
|Both of these programs have underachieved based upon expectations and it will be interesting to see which team rights itself and which team sinks further into the pit of despair. Thursday night in Morgantown has always been a magical place and with our improved defense and a healthy Pat White, I'm looking for a good victory.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-17|
|Patrick Curry||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 130|
|This game should be a battle of defenses, but I still have the feeling that the Mountaineer offense is ready to break out and have a big game. WVU has a couple things working in its favor. The first is that this is a night game at home, and Milan Puskar Stadium should have amazing energy. Second, Pat White returns as the starting quarterback and word has it that the offense will have some new wrinkles this week. Either way. I like the Mountaineers in this one at home. Auburn's offense is reeling right now as they struggle to find an identity.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-10|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 130|
With nearly three weeks to recover from the nasty injury he received in the Rutgers game, hopefully Patrick White will be back up to full speed and firing on all cylinders. Hopefully, 10 days off have helped Jarrett Brown, also, but the Brown/White package must see limited action. We now know that either WVU does not really have a third string QB, or, more likely, it's asking too much of the youngster to come back and play QB after taking so many snaps on the defensive side of the ball. Either way, the Mountaineers have got to protect The Franchise and make sure that Pat White gets to play every single down against Auburn. That means you, Offensive Line. He is your bread and butter and ours. Take care of him. Please.
Unfortunately, Auburn has also had 10 days of healing for their very banged up team. But it's Thursday night in Morgantown, and I will never bet against the Mountaineers in that setting.
|Pick: West Virginia 14-10|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 132|
This game is essentially meaningless in terms of goals for West Virginia. It's a yardstick, sure, a measurement of ability, though how much is unknown after Auburn dropped three games, including a loss to Arkansas. But it won't eliminate an unblemished mark in Big East play, won't detract from a BCS berth if the Mountaineers defeat all other Big East foes. It could hurt ranking and affect a tiebreaking procedure in that manner, but that's with a loss. If WVU loses this game and wins the rest, it matters not.
This is a test of ability to play with an above-average foe, something at which WVU has failed in its previous tries. East Carolina has emerged as little more than average and Colorado is only solid. The victories over Villanova, Marshall, Rutgers and Syracuse prove West Virginia isn't horrid - but not much else. And its the style of play and win which has bothered many fans. So here's another go, another round versus a team with a ho-hum offense and a good defense. This will show more where West Virginia is heading if it can find itself and gain an offensive identity, a sense of self. A bunch of bland plays into the heart of Auburn's sets won't hack it tonight. There must be misdirection and timnely intelligence in play calling.
It reads here I have no idea what will happen. Maybe others do. I'm searching for West Virginia and what it could be as much as the team and staff itself. There only pattern thus far is one of unknowns, and a lack of what one would think is an intelligent way toward answers.
|Pick: Auburn 24-20|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 133|
What could have been one of the most anticipated home games of the
past 10 years has certainly lost a lot of its luster over the past few
weeks. Both schools, preseason darlings of the national polls, have
limped through the season's first half, particularly on the offensive
side of the ball.
Midweek night games in Morgantown are always filled with energy and enthusiasm from the crowd, but will West Virginia's restless fan base be up to the task this week? Maybe at the beginning of the game, but if the Mountaineers make a mistake or two early, some of that energy will turn to angst. It will be interesting to see if the crowd stays into a defensive-oriented game, or whether they will simply concentrate on the offense, grousing about playcalling and the like.
This will be a defensive game, though. And as a result, WVU must get a big play on that side of the ball or even on special teams if it hopes to topple the Tigers. The same goes for Auburn. In the end, I think West Virginia finds a way -- some way -- to get it done.
|Pick: West Virginia 17-13|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 137|
I really don't know which way to go with this game. I see the same shine in Pat White's eyes that I have seen before so many big performances, and he may be as healthy as he has ever been. That makes me have hope for an offensive explosion. But if it hasn't happened yet, am I kidding myself to think it is going to happen now? If it does turn out to be another defensive struggle, can we expect to get the breaks for the third week in a row?
There are so many questions and not too many answers. But when it comes right down to it, I believe in Pat White and I believe in this team. Call me a homer if you wish, but living in the heart of SEC country, I can't go against my Mountaineers in this one.
|Pick: West Virginia 17-14|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 155|
Despite the boos from the Syracuse game, I'm hoping that Mountaineer
fans will get back behind their team and bring some of the magic that
Morgantown is known for during Thursday night games. Hopefully
Patrick White will have a strong comeback after missing one game due
to injury when he takes on a team from his home state.
A win against a team like Auburn is just what WVU needs to get its season going back in the right direction. I truly believe that the Mountaineers have all the pieces to be an unbelievable football team. They just need to put them all together on the same day. It seems as though thus far, all of the pieces have not been able to work together on the same day, and hopefully that will turn around this Thursday. I think it's going to be a game that will go down to the final minutes but I'm going to hope that the Mountaineers can pull out this important victory.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-24|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 3-3||Pt Diff: 162|
Possibly the most perplexing pick of the year. Is Pat White healthy? Can Auburn and their new QB mount an offense against the WVU defense? Can WVU mount an offense against the stellar Auburn defense even if Pat is healthy?
WVU still shows no particular strategy on offense but some of that can be attributed to the injuries of Pat White. The Mountaineers were starting to move the ball very well against Marshall and Rutgers before Pat got hurt in both of those games. Granted neither of those teams could be confused for Auburn, but there were signs of life. The question is, can Pat's head hold up to the punishment of one of the top defenses in the SEC? If not, how injured is Jarrett Brown? Is Bradley Starks ready to step in if needed?
On the other hand Auburn is running through Quarterbacks like lunchmeat and spread guru Tony Franklin was given the gate by Tommy Tubberville. Auburn brings the 69th rated rush offense to Morgantown to go along with its 105th rated passing offense.
Two teams that were supposed to meet in this game to take a step forward to national title contention are now battling just for middle of the road respectability.
I'm picking with my heart and not my head on this one, because I flat feel if our offense actually played to their potential it would be blowout city.
|Pick: West Virginia 20-10|