Fearless Picks: WVU - Cincinnati

Cincinnati invades West Virginia with designs on the league title. Do any of our pickers forsee a Bearcat win?


There wasn't much movement in the standings this week, as middling score predictions dominated the selections. Patrick's five point miss was the closest of the group, but the worst selection (Matt's) was still only 13 points off.


No bad picks last week, so a verbal kick in the pants for the selectors. Let's lose those bland 28-17 picks! Just for variety, why not go with an oddball score, like 29-12? Time to spice it up as the season winds down. (Associate Editor's Note: Does anyone else see the irony in the lone non-picker critcizing the picks of others? Just wondering.)

David Velegol Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 139
Vegas has this game somewhere between 7-8 points in favor of West Virginia, and I'm just not seeing this. There are discussions about Cincinnati's defense, but I think you need to get past the Eastern Kentuckys, Miamis, Akrons and Marshalls, which are stat builders. I'm dismissing the Bearcats South Florida game and focusing on their UConn game, as USF has not playing well lately. The UConn game was a road game loss 40-16. UC was 0-14 on third down conversions, they rushed for 30 yards, and they were 19-47 passing. Unless West Virginia gives less than 100% or gets off to a horrific start, I like the Mountaineers, as they are playing well.
Pick: West Virginia 41-13
Patrick Curry Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 148
Cincinnati is a dangerous team to play at any time, but especially now, as they appear to be peaking. The problem for the Bearcats is that West Virginia has also played well as of late, and has played very well at home. The key to this game is the run defense of Cincinnati, which is solid, but there are too many weapons in the WVU backfield for it to handle. That, combined with how well the West Virginia defense has been playing, will lead to a Mountaineer victory. A complete game from the Mountaineers will make them very difficult to beat.
Pick: West Virginia 31-14
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 165
West Virginia seems to be on track after some struggles during the first part of the season. Cincinnati certainly looked strong last week in a home win over USF, but the Bearcats have proven to be a completely different team on the road, a real Jekyll and Hyde if you will.

That latter fact, combined with the 7:00 PM kick adds up to a toxic combination for Brian Kelly and company. UC's passing game has the ability to create some problems for West Virginia, but that won't be enough to put them over the top in this one.

Pick: West Virginia 34-14
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 166
A 5-game winning streak and an appearance in the polls is just reward for graciously surviving the slings and arrows of outrageous, unrealistic "fans" who don't understand what the word 'transition' means. But now hopes are raised and the Mountaineers need to respond decisively. Brian Kelly and the Bearcats have handled a stunning series of quarterback injuries with great fortitude. If it weren't for bad luck, as the saying goes, they'd have had no luck at all. My guess is that Kelly won't end his career at Cincinnati. Maybe Michigan would like to hire him. Or Clemson. Because if he sticks around the Big East, he will become a pain in our collective patoot. However, back to the subject at hand: the best defensive game of the Mountaineer season was sealed by a finally-clicking offense that capitalized on all those beautiful turnovers last week. May it continue to be so.
Pick: West Virginia 31-17
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 167
West Virginia is now playing Mountaineer football, and although Cincinnati is playing some very solid football of its own, Bearcat football just doesn't have quite the same ring. The Mountaineers will take another step toward a Big East title and Patrick White will move closer to the NCAA quarterback rushing record with another 100-yard game on the ground.
Pick: West Virginia 30-20
Andy Easton Last Week: L Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 169
The Bearcats lone victory in 16 attempts against WVU came on a sloppy field in 2003, a game in which the Mountaineers couldn't get out of their own way. While Cincinnati's program has improved over the past five seasons, so has the Gold and Blue.

With the way the Mountaineers have been playing, two score predictions will be required. At halftime the score will be WVU 7, Cincinnati 10, but Coach Stew will wake up his lads during the break.

Pick: West Virginia 28-13
Taylor Jones Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Pt Diff: 180
This game shouldn't be much of a problem for West Virginia. It's a night game at Mountaineer Field with WVU coming in on a high after its first road win last week against UConn. Pat White seems to be in good health, and we can hope to see the return of Jarrett Brown this week. I think we will see a well-balanced game on the ground and in the air with solid play from the defense.
Pick: West Virginia 35-14
Greg Hunter Last Week: L Season: 5-3 Pt Diff: 142
Injuries to UC QBs have slowed the Bearcat offense (26.8 points per game) compared to recent years. WVU's defense (14.8 ppg) has been very good at keeping foes out of the end zone. It should be able to do the same to UC.
Pick: West Virginia 28-13
Matt Keller Last Week: L Season: 5-3 Pt Diff: 166
This has the potential to be the most exciting game left on West Virginia's schedule. It reads like an overstatement, but UC's coaching staff is the best with which Bill Stewart will match wits the remainder of the season. The Bearcats have more speed and talent on defense than given credit for, and enough offensive skill to control the ball, make key downfield passing plays and stay in the game.

The Mountaineers won't butt their heads against a wall or rely on Pat White has much as they did at Cincinnati last year. Still, UC will likely need a pair of turnovers or a WVU special teams mistake. If that happens, the Bearcats can win. It's still difficult to tell how solid of a team second-year head coach Brian Kelly has. Victories over a series of non-BCS team coupled with crushing defeats versus Connecticut and Oklahoma leave many questions. They will be answered tonight. WVU wins - closer than the experts expect.

Pick: West Virginia 28-22
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 5-3 Pt Diff: 195
West Virginia continues to find ways to win football games, despite continued offensive struggles. Last week's 35-point barrage masked the fact that the Mountaineers did not score on a drive of over 60 yards for the entire game. To me, this is a concern.

The Mountaineer defense continues to improve, but this week's festivities with the Cincinnati Bearcats brings a passing challenge that WVU has not faced since the Villanova game. How will Cincinnati's quarterbacks stand up to the punishment of the WVU defense? All three UC signal callers have spent time on the shelf this season, and a 7:00 PM start in Morgantown will never be confused with an afternoon invitation to tea.

Once again I am sticking with the Mountaineers, but I believe the offense is going to have to pull more of the load for this game to fall into the win column.

Pick: West Virginia 38-24

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