Fearless Picks: WVU - UNC

It's down to the wire in one of the closer races in the history of this feature. Greg Hunter holds on to the lead, but David, Patrick and Matt all have a realistic shot at overtaking him – assuming everyone picks the correct winner of the Meineke Car Care Bowl. If there's a split vote, then everyone other than Bill has a shot at glory.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

First off, congrats to Andy Easton on the addition of twins to his family! Just two more to go, and he can put a full basketball team on the court. Not sure what the missus thinks of that idea, though.

Given his hectic week, Andy gets double credit for missing the final score of the USF game by just 15 points – the best of the lot this week. Even with a vanity pick of 5-0 (honoring Patrick White), Andy's pick was in close proximity to the 13-7 final score. Emjoy it Andy – this will probably be your last free time for the next 18 years.


NOSE PICKING

Pffffft to Bill Gleason, who succumbed to the negative nancys that have ripped the team this year. Sure, WVU isn't a national title contender, but it was only dominated in one game this year. One more chance to redeem yourself!


Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 203
Bowl games can be hard to predict, but history does tell us you have to score big to win. In 14 of WVU's last 18 bowl games, the winner had 30 or more points. In that span, WVU is 5-3 when it has scored 30 or more, more significantly, it has lost eight straight when under that mark. WVU's offense, which averages 24.0 ppg, isn't a sure thing to go over 30, something it's done just four times this year. But then again neither is UNC an offensive juggernaut (27.5 ppg, also with four games plus- 30). What WVU has, though, is Pat White. Just as against USF in his home finale, it's hard to believe he won't find a way to win in his last game as a Mountaineer.
Pick: West Virginia 30-27
 
David Velegol Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 214
My rule of thumb on bowl games is that speed dictates the outcome of game because team chemistry and execution break down with this extended layoff. West Virginia has a group of speedsters in quarterback Pat White and either Jock Sanders and Noel Divine in the backfield. The West Virginia defense will be solid.
Pick: West Virginia 27-13
 
Patrick Curry Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 215
My rule of thumb on bowl games is that speed dictates the outcome of game, because team chemistry and execution break down with this extended layoff. West Virginia has a group of speedsters in quarterback Pat White and either Jock Sanders and Noel Divine in the backfield. The West Virginia defense will be solid as well.
Pick: West Virginia 28-24
 
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 221
We'll never play not to lose here. We play to win. It's likely most will pick West Virginia. Greg Hunter's in the clubhouse with WVU. I'm going the other way for the win. North Carolina hits big plays in the air and gets just enough offense to knock off the Mountaineers. After any turnover, UNC head coach Butch Davis challenges defenses deep like few others. The Tar Heels can't run the ball well, but West Virginia hasn't hit much in the big play or points arenas this season. With no true feel for this outcome, I'll play to win the contest.
Pick: North Carolina 25-20
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: L Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 241
This is a tough matchup for the Mountaineers. North Carolina has some talent and at times has played very well. If I analyzed the matchups, I would probably end up siding with the Tar Heels. One thing I have learned over the past four years, though, is to never underestimate Pat White. I flew to Arizona last year thinking the Mountaineers had no chance against what I thought was the best team in the country. What I saw, though, was something entirely different. Pat White comes to play in the biggest games, and even though this might not be a BCS bowl game and a lesser stage than where he has performed in the postseason in recent years, White wants to go out a winner. I can't go against him.
Pick: West Virginia 33-28
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 245
. And now we come to the last game for the greatest winner in college football. I see no reason to believe that Pat White will permit his exit to be other than in victory.
Pick: West Virginia 27-17
 
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 252
My head tells me to pick the Tarheels but there's no way Pat White ends his storybook career with a loss. Look out UNC, here comes #5.
Pick: West Virginia 55-5
 
Taylor Jones Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 253
If the Mountaineers can pull out any of their energy and power left from last year's bowl game, North Carolina won't have a chance. But as we have heard all year, this is a different team with different players than the one that had that unbelievable win over Oklahoma. I think if each team just plays to their potential, the Mountaineers can pull this one out easily.

Ever since hearing that Pat McAfee had never kicked a game-winning field goal, I have been hoping he could before his time as a Mountaineer was up. Even though that would cause Mountaineer fans some stress, here's to hoping.

Pick: West Virginia 38-35
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 8-4 Pt Diff: 266
West Virginia's up and down 2008 season, for better or for worse, will come to an end on Saturday in Charlotte. With high expectations entering the season, how many people really felt that the Mountaineers would end up in the Meineke Car Care Bowl? Not many in WVU's fan base, that's for sure. Perhaps the only way to keep the vultures (i.e. fans) away heading into the offseason is to win this game.

Unfortunately for West Virginia, I don't see it. UNC is alongside Pitt and Cincinnati as the best team WVU has faced this season. Will a couple of extra weeks be enough to cure the Mountaineers of the same bugaboos (poor kickoff coverage, an inability to get off the field on third down and an inability to convert short yardage plays) that have plagued them all season long? Not in my book.

Pick: North Carolina 23-21
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: L Season: 6-6 Pt Diff: 270
One would think that a team could be properly motivated to play its last game in front of a sellout crowd against a team from the conference that tried to destroy the league in which they participate.

One would also think that given three weeks to prepare that the Mountaineers would have some sort of plan in how to attack the field on offense and defend a simple kick return.

But, alas, I have a hard time getting motivated to put any effort into this pick, so why should I believe any different about the team? Again, WVU's best game is a rout of monumental proportions. But something tells me we've already seen WVU's best game.

Pick: West Virginia 20-17

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