Fearless Picks: West Virginia - Liberty

As the calendar flips over to September, all slates in the college football world are wiped clean – including those of our fearless pickers. This illustrious panel, made up of current and alumni of the Blue & Gold News and BlueGoldNews.com, will again take on each game this year with its own special blend of analysis, irreverence and just plain fun.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Greg Hunter returns to defend his 2008 championship, and everyone else gears up to try to dethrone the champ. Might there be some wiggle room in light of his 8-4 preseason prediction?


NOSE PICKING

We're not picking on anyone this week – but there are sure to be some booby prizes handed out as the year goes along. We're just waiting for a pick of Arkansas Tech!


Greg Hunter Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
Liberty is a good FCS-level program, and yes we all know that there will be a David-over-Goliath upset or two in college football this season. But it won't happen in Morgantown, as WVU's defense should be able to dominate a rebuilding Flame offense. As for WVU's own offense, there will probably be a few opening-game miscues, but it had better be able to put plenty of points on the board Saturday because much tougher tests will soon follow.
Pick: West Virginia 47-10
 
Andy Easton Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
The official site of the Liberty Flames has a video comparing the Mountaineers vs Flames to David vs Goliath. The last words of David in the video are, "Lion or bear, made no difference, I killed it". Its definitely a must see for any Blue and Gold-clad Mountaineer football player looking for some motivation. Liberty, Liberty, Liberty, this year, granted, the Mountaineers are no Goliath, but you my friends are no David. Fortunately there are no lions or bears at Mountaineer field, just Reed, Scooter, Noel and Jarrett. Write us after Saturday and let us know how it went.
Pick: West Virginia 34-13
 
David Velegol Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
I believe West Virginia is a Top 10 team with national championship potential and I expect it to perform accordingly. Coach Stewart isn't one to run up the score, but the journey starts here and in terms of the polls the Mountaineers have some make-up work to do.
Pick: West Virginia 56-13
 
Patrick Southern Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
If there was ever a season in which WVU needed to start things off with a FCS opponent, this is it. With the abundance of questions surrounding various aspects of the team, the Mountaineer coaching staff will certainly enjoy chance to iron out some wrinkles between the opener and a tough second matchup with East Carolina.

At least for the first week, West Virginia's potential problems won't matter much. There's just too much talent on the field for Bill Stewart's team to lose the opener, but it will be closer than many expect. Fans will walk out of Milan Puskar Stadium with as many questions about this year's squad as they have answers. Those answers likely won't come until at least a week later.

Pick: West Virginia 27-3
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
Ah, football! It seems a very long time since the snowy White Out at Mountaineer Field. Pat White will be missed, but he will most definitely not be the only member of the Class of 2009 that we will miss. The part of WVU's game that worries me most this season is the kicking game. Pat McAfee, the prolix son of Plum, has taken not only his sense of humor and great post-game interviews to Indiana; he also took his kicking leg. Hopefully my worries will quickly fade to dust, but the first few points after, field goal attempts, and punts will have me on the edge of my seat, but we may not get any sense of the punting game until next week.

The Mountaineers will be free to run up the score on Liberty.

Pick: West Virginia 35-7
 
Matt Keller Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
West Virginia comes into the season opener with a near balance of proven commodities and unproven players. The kicking and coverage units offset the linebackers and tailbacks. The defensive front has sure skill, the offensive line possesses unhoned talent. And even at the slots where most fans should feel comfortable with the first wave of players - quarterback, in the backfield, at defensive tackle - the reserves remain an enigma. Liberty won't add much to the proven commodities side; the Flames lack enough raw talent to truly test a solid BCS squad.

The goal, it reads here, to emerge from the game with at least as many reliable tangibles as additional inquiries. The worst-case scenario is to have units not performing together, individual players muddling the two deep with substandard performances as opposed to elevated skillsets and a discontinuation of progress toward betterment. The outcome should be as secure as any will be this season. The question is what happens on the way to a final score. Bet here is a solid rushing attack, a pair of thrown touchdowns by Jarrett Brown and some major disruption of the Liberty interior lines on both sides. We'll see.

Pick: West Virginia 34-13
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
Having been out of the loop for all of camp, I -- like you -- am interested to see what WVU has. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait another week to see the real Mountaineers. Liberty will provide slightly more competition than the Cheat Lake Middle School Sharks, but we all know that the games that count don't start until East Carolina comes to town next weekend. If this were a Debate competition, it might be a more even playing field as both Liberty and WVU have nationally-recognized debate teams. Personally, it will be very weird for me to be watching this game from nearly 1,000 miles away. I haven't missed a home opener since 1993's lid-lifter against Eastern Michigan. At least there's ESPN's College Football Gameplan package to ensure that I see the action in some form.
Pick: West Virginia 45-13
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
I spent all last season in South Carolina hearing about how bad Tommy Beecher was. Now I'm supposed to be convinced that West Virginia could be in danger of losing to Liberty because of this same guy? I'm not buying it. The Flames are a decent FCS team, but they aren't ready to make any noise in Morgantown.
Pick: West Virginia 36-13
 
Taylor Jones Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
I think Liberty will be a relatively easy opener for West Virginia. I'm hoping that the Mountaineers will get a large lead early and allow some of the freshmen to see some time on the field. After seeing him during fall camp, I think Mountaineer fans will be impressed by the skill of freshman running back Tavon Austin. I foresee the Mountaineer offense coming out very similar to how they ended last season, and throw the ball all over the field. Not to discount Liberty as team, but I see Saturday's game as more of learning experience for the some of the young members of the team.
Pick: West Virginia 35-7
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
WVU struggles with their young offensive line for a half, keeping Liberty closer than the game indicates. WVU's defense keeps the Flames at bay while the offense shows signs of life in the second quarter. The second half becomes more of what the coaching staff comes to expect
Pick: West Virginia 45-17
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: Season: 0-0 Pt Diff: 0
It's finally time for football in Morgantown and this is the year that senior QB Jarrett Brown was been waiting on patiently for years, as he meets his first test of the season against the Liberty Flames. The Flames have high hopes of pulling off the "Appy State" of the season, but the Mountaineers will have too much talent on both sides of the ball to let this one get out of hand. First win of the season.
Pick: West Virginia 45-10

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