It's been as much of an up and down season for our panel as it has been for the Mountaineer football team – which way will the pendulum swing this week?
PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Patrick takes a narrow lead over David, with four more pickers within 20 points of the top spot. This one may not be settled until someone wins a game that everyone else loses. Will that be a Mountaineer win or a loss? Matt took weekly honors with a nine-point miss in the UC game, but missing the winner (as did everyone) takes a bit of the shine away.
Another oh-fer in the Cincinnati game, as no one saw WVU's offensive problems continuing to the degree they did against the Bearcats. And what's the basis for picking WVU scores in the 30s or 40s?
|Patrick Curry||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 168|
|This is a game that West Virginia should win on paper. The problem is that it's difficult to tell which West Virginia team is going to show up. As the season winds down and each game gets more important, that's normally when Pat White plays his best. We are also talking about a struggling Louisville team that recently lost to Syracuse. I like West Virginia to go on the road and pick up a much-needed victory and stay alive in the Big East Conference if for no other reason than it's really all this senior class knows.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-21|
|David Velegol||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 170|
|This game makes me nervous, as Louisville has lost three straight games and is either going to either come out fighting or fold up. The week off should help West Virginia get back on track offensively. It will also be interesting to see one time West Virginia verbal commitment Victor Anderson, who has rushed for 973 yards with a 5.9 yards per carry average. I kind of see this as a Cincinnati v. Louisville score, with the Mountaineers prevailing.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-20|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 180|
|I don't know how to pick anymore. Every time I think I have this team figured out, I am proven wrong. But here goes nothing. With an extra week to get healthy and prepare for what looks to be a very average Louisville team, I expect the Mountaineers to play a solid game Saturday in Louisville. If Greg Hunter can get past the hot dog vendor on the roads outside the pizza box that the Cardinals call home, then Pat White and Noel Devine should be able to get by the Louisville defense. It won't be a blowout, but it won't exactly be a nail-biter either.|
|Pick: West Virginia 26-17|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 183|
At the last round of conference realignments, when Louisville entered the Big East, it looked like the most promising of our new opponents, and a nice little rivalry is indeed beginning to develop (Reminder to the Guv: True rivalries take time to develop and cannot be unilaterally declared, even by elected officials). A caller to a certain radio talk show earlier this week suggested that the WVU-Louisville game is at the point where a Named Trophy is in order The caller suggested The Hatfield-McCoy Feud Bowl, which works for us since we carry a gun full of birdshot and Louisville . . . doesn't. (Ed. Note: The caller also apparently didn't know that there is already a trophy for the game between the two schools.) But the days of Whine and Roses (Petrino and Brohm) ended all too soon, and Steve Kragthorpe and Hunter Cantwell haven't been able to create a consistent brand around which the red birds can rally. Louisville looks like the most schizophrenic team in college football right now. Which Louisville will show up on Saturday? The one that beat Kansas State? Or the one that took an absolute drubbing from Pitt? Either way, the Mountaineers should win this one.
(Note to SK: we promise not to stomp on your Cardinal if that obnoxious linebacker of your will keep his body fluids to himself. You don't tug on Superman's cape and you certainly don't spit on The One Who Wears The Five.)
|Pick: West Virginia 27-10|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 187|
|At this point in the season it doesn't matter who the Mountaineers play -- it all depends on which WVU team shows up. If the Mountaineers that took the field in the second half against Auburn plays, then the Blue and Gold can beat anyone on its schedule. If the team that played the first half against the Bearcats rears its ugly head, then WVU is no better than a middle of the pack MAC team.|
|Pick: West Virginia 17-16|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 188|
West Virginia's season is at a crossroads. Win out and the
Mountaineers clinch at least a share of the Big East Championship for
the fifth time in six years. Lose out and risk not going to a bowl
game for the first time since 2001. What will ultimately happen is
probably somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
This week, the focus turns to Louisville. The Cardinals enter Saturday's noon kickoff at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium reeling on the heels of three straight defeats. Does that mean the Mountaineers will notch their seventh victory simply by showing up? Nope.
At the end of the day, West Virginia's offense just has not played at a high enough level on a consistent basis for me to justify picking them to beat U of L. Louisville gets a much-needed win.
|Pick: Louisville 17-13|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: L||Season: 6-3||Pt Diff: 204|
|Louisville is coming off of a tough loss against Cincinnati and will certainly be pumped up to face the Mountaineers. West Virginia has had some trouble getting road wins this season, and the early noon start is also cause for concern, given WVU's propensity for slow starts. The Mountaineers are looking forward to playing in the harsh, intense Louisville environment and have been known to thrive under pressure. I think this game will prove to be one of the best overall contests that the Mountaineers will play this season.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-31|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: L||Season: 5-4||Pt Diff: 160|
|WVU needs the same formula it's used as of late – stingy defense, solid run game, a couple big pass plays. That's the recipe for a win at Papa John's.|
|Pick: West Virginia 21-17|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: L||Season: 5-4||Pt Diff: 175|
|Louisville's defense has been dogged by short fields and missed assignments. West Virginia's offense is akin to an aging piston. When it hits, it's fine. And when it misfires, even by miniscule miscues, it bogs down all else. The Mountaineers are a play or two away from routine 30-point games. But it has been that way nearly all season. That isn't likely to change against UofL. Still, it reads here WVU has enough in the tank to beat the Cards. The atmosphere will be lacking the raw emotion a night kick provides - which will allow just enough margin for a win. I'm going against what Richardson said he'd pick, and it won't be pretty. But it's a seventh 'W' in '08.|
|Pick: West Virginia 24-21|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 5-4||Pt Diff: 212|
West Virginia pulls into Louisville off of a much needed week of following the
puzzling loss to Cincinnati in Morgantown. Seemingly every issue with the
Mountaineer offense that has caused struggles during the season cropped up
against the Bearcats and each at very inopportune times. Louisville limps in
following another home loss, its third of the season. Riding, or being ridden,
a three-game losing streak, the Cardinals find themselves at a crucial point in the season.
What the Cardinals do bring in is the eighth-ranked rushing defense in the country. What they don't bring is much pass defense (87th) or ability to stop other teams from scoring on a regular basis (26 points per game – 70th in the nation).
I've got no idea anymore. West Virginia's offensive performance has been horrendous, which has overshadowed a tremendous defense. You'd like to say that a coach that can't find someone on a football team he recruited that is willing to run through a wall to get a first down after eight games should be fired. Except that the guy responsible for recruiting this team is busy destroying another football program this year.
In my mind it is pretty simple. The team that wins the trench war will win the game. It is about time for the hogmollies in gold and blue to start dominating games like they were expected to, and give Noel Devine and Jock Sanders room to run -- and give Patrick White room to be, well, Patrick White. WVU's A-game would produce a 45-17 victory. WVU's C-game won't get it done.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-17|