Fearless Picks: WVU - ECU

Everyone hit the win over Liberty, but will the game against East Carolina yield different results? The revenge angle has been overplayed to death – it's time to see if our pickers are buying into that slant, or if on-field factors will play the deciding role.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Matt and Andy jumped out to an early lead, as each missed the Liberty win by just eight total points. Cam, Jane, Taylor and Bill are in a bunched pack in the middle with a differential of just 15.


NOSE PICKING

Last year's champ, Greg, brings up the tail end this week with a 24-point miss. The boss, and a few other staffers, were hurt by Liberty's last minute score. It's a long season, however, and the 16 point gap from first to last could shrink quickly.


Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 8
East Carolina has solid talent and great experience returning. But that talent - much of which was hurt at key times last season - hasn't played the West Virginia offense it will Saturday. The Mountaineers are more honed, more attune to what the new staff wants and better able to execute the game plan. This won't be another 24-3 drubbing, especially at home. But the Mountaineers won't be able to cakewalk, or run, through an athletic ECU team, either. The win won't be as workmanlike as last week, as offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen opens the playbook as needed and Jarrett Brown has a solid day passing. Look for a few more blitzes on defense, a few blown assignments as Patrick Pinkey and his trio of receivers exploit openings and a decent but not great special teams showing. Barring turnovers, West Virginia secures the home victory and moves to 2-0.
Pick: West Virginia 27-20
 
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 8
This year's East Carolina game will be a good barometer of how well the Mountaineers will fare this season, much like the Maryland game has been in years past. The Pirates have never won a game in Morgantown, but this experienced bunch of Pirates arelooking to change that. It will be a close game, but I think the Blue and Gold pull this one out.
Pick: West Virginia 27-24
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 10
West Virginia was embarrassed last year in Greenville, N.C. Now, back in front of the home fans, they will be looking for revenge. I don't know how good this team is just yet, but I know that pride means everything to a Mountaineer.
Pick: West Virginia 26-21
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 15
Mountaineer Nation: get a grip. From the reaction to the WVU VICTORY over Liberty, one would think that the British had just sacked Philadelphia. We won, for pete's sake. Yes, there is room to improve, but, as John Wesley would say, we will ever be going on to perfection.

Having said that, ECU will be a firm test. We will know a great deal more about this edition of the Mountaineers on Saturday evening. Forget the revenge, just get out there and win.

Pick: West Virginia 24-21
 
Taylor Jones Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 15
I think this will be a great test for the Mountaineers. After having a few slip ups against Liberty, they will have hopefully ironed out any wrinkles remaining. However, I think ECU will be a great challenge.
Pick: West Virginia 35-27
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 15
West Virginia's ho-hum walk over Liberty was not without its head scratching moments. The offense looked pretty good scoring seven times in nine possessions. Yes, it would have been nice to punch in a couple of TDs instead of kicking field goals, but the field goals actually got Tyler B's feet wet in game conditions and that could be important this week.

The defense, however, was shaky. The kickoff defense was deplorable. I'm not, however, a firm believer that kick return defense is going to play a big part in losing games in Morgantown. Fact is, if WVU is busy defending kicks, that means there are points on the board for the Mountaineers. Yes, WVU struggled in eight kickoffs last week. It is better than struggling during two kickoffs.

While the continued mantra is that Stew and Crew dished out the vanilla on both sides of the ball and kept the chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer for this weekend, one has to wonder just how stale the vanilla was when a team's only true threat can get wide open play after play after play against what was thought to be the strongest unit on the team this fall. Facing a team that physically whipped them from pillar to post last season in Greenville, the story seems to be that toughness is once again king in Mountaineer Nation and the old Gold and Blue is out for blood this week. The offensive playbook will open up, the defense will be unleashed and the Pirates are in for a hellish visit to Morgantown.

All I know is the team I saw on the field last Saturday will be lucky to go 6-6 even in the pathetic Big East. Time for the Mountaineers to show some fight to go with all this alleged talent. However, despite my feelings to the contrary, I can't pick WVU to lose at home.

Pick: West Virginia 27-20
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 19
After an opening-weekend triumph over Liberty, WVU meets its first real challenge of the season on Saturday when the Pirates of ECU come to town. The fact that this game is now a barometer for the Mountaineers says a lot about the current state of both programs. If Jarrett Brown and the offense can move the ball and finish drives, West Virginia should be ok. The Mountaineer D must put forth a better effort than it did last week, though. I'll give the edge to the home team in a tight one, but I don't say that with an abundance of confidence.
Pick: West Virginia 24-20
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 22
If you ask Mountaineer fans, what one game from last year sticks in their crow's nest; it would undoubtedly be the 24-3 keelhauling at the hands of the Pirates. With the old salt Williams anchoring the defence, combined with a broadside attack from the offense, WVU should be able to scuttle ECU and capture a win at home.
Pick: West Virginia 31-24
 
Patrick Southern Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 23
This game became considerably tougher to pick when both teams failed to impress in their season-opening wins over FCS competition. To paraphrase Bill Stewart after his team's victory over Liberty, this week's match-up is now a contest to see who will have improved the most in practice between games.

East Carolina returns almost all of the key contributors from last year's victory over WVU in Greenville, while the Mountaineers are still only heading into their second game without their biggest star on offense (Pat White) and special teams (Pat McAfee) from a season ago.

All of the tangible factors seem to favor the Pirates (barring the fact that ECU has never won a game in Morgantown). Still, there's something that tells me that all of the talk about last year's 24-3 beating will have stuck in the collective craw of the Mountaineer players and that motivation won't be an issue for this week.

Pick: West Virginia 27-23
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 24
It's a new year, and each season is different than the last. But still, with 16 starters and both kickers returning, the Pirates' domination of WVU in 2008 still seems fresh. It's hard to forget the past.
Pick: East Carolina 21-20

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