Fearless Picks: WVU - Marshall

It's the [insert your contrived nickname here] edition of Fearless Picks, as West Virginia faces "the team from down south".

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Only a pair of miscues on extra points kept Jane from recording the first dead-on score prediction of the season, but her 35-14 pick of WVU's win over Syracuse was good enough to move her into third place overall. Cam and Brian were right behind with a five-point miss, which allowed the former to get a bit of breathing space over the pack in the point differential standings.


NOSE PICKING

Bill's 25-point miss dropped him a bit in the standings, leaving him with a 45-point gap to make up in order to get back in the fight for second.


Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 5-0 Pt Diff: 52
It's that time of year -- time for yet another exciting edition of the Coal Bowl. This year Marshall is coming into the game with a much improved team under fifth-year head coach Mark Syder and an upset on their minds. But the fact remains that the last time Marshall beat a BCS opponent, Oakland Raider fans were coming off the high of a Super Bowl appearance which they lost to Tampa Bay, 48-21. Sorry Herd fans, this year will not be the year you finally beat those Mountaineers.
Pick: West Virginia 42-17
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 45
It's Marshall. They will always be the little brother tugging on the Mountaineers' shirts and begging them to play. When I used to beg my big brother for a backyard game of Home Run Derby, he would hit about 50 out of the park so that I wouldn't want to play anymore. That is what West Virginia will continue to do to the little brothers from Huntington.
Pick: West Virginia 40-18
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 55
Dear Martians,

As you circle Mountaineer Field in your spaceship, complaining about our lack of an appropriate landing strip for your vehicle, I would like to lay down a few rules for your conduct while in Morgantown this weekend:

1. No whining about our 1-1 deal with East Carolina. First of all, our second largest alumni chapter in the world is the Charlotte, N.C. chapter, and it behooves us to keep those due$ paying alumni happy by playing a game in front of them every other year. Second, we like to recruit in N.C. and its surrounds. A game in Huntington does not help us with either of those tasks.

2. No complaining about our rowdy fans and how scared you are to come to Morgantown. Grow up. If you think our fans are rude, then you haven't gotten out to very many big-time college football games. Try Byrd Stadium at Maryland, for example. And BTW, if you're so scared of our fans, maybe you should stay home. Last I checked, 5,300 of you had bought tickets for this game, so that defeats your argument.

Pick: West Virginia 42-7
 
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 56
It's difficult to imagine West Virginia's rush defense allowing the yardage Marshall -- the back and the school -- is averaging through six games. The Herd should find some room, but it isn't likely to amass the yards and touchdowns needed to keep pace with the Mountaineer offense. If WVU plays solidly on special teams and slows Darius Marshall, it should get a fifth win handily. If Marshall gets churning and can mix the pass when it wants to, as opposed to when forced to, the contest could be tight for a second time in three years.
Pick: West Virginia 38-16
 
Taylor Jones Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 58
The Marshall game will be the Mountaineers last "easy" battle before getting into the rest of their conference schedule. Although the game will not mean much as far as rankings, it is a must win for the Mountaineers. I hope to see another big game from Noel Devine and maybe some more action from the Mountaineer receivers. This game could be a good way to continue to ease Scooter Berry back into play as the Mountaineers will no doubt need him down the stretch.
Pick: West Virginia 35-7
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 70
It's difficult to get a handle on this year's team and I'm surprised on a weekly basis on where the problem areas are. Turnovers are still a concern, although the Mountaineers only lost one out of three last Saturday. Overall, WVU had a solid day on defense, holding Syracuse to 0-12 on 3rd and 4th down conversions and only giving up 222 yards. Look for the defense to continue to improve this week and the offense to gain confidence, as West Virginia rolls to victory.
Pick: West Virginia 42-10
 
Patrick Southern Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 75
What you've heard about the Herd is true -- they're a little bit better this season than they have been in recent years. It seems like MU always has at least one bona fide NFL talent on its roster, and that is no different this season with Darius Marshall at running back.

But in this case, expect the immovable object to slow down the unstoppable force -- West Virginia's run defense should be able to limit Marshall (the player) on the ground enough to make Marshall (the team) struggle offensively.

On the other side of the ball, it's the same story heading into a different week. The view from here is (once again) that if WVU doesn't turn the ball over, it will have little problem scoring 30 or more for the seventh straight game overall (dating back to last season's 31-30 Meineke Car Care Bowl win over UNC). As it almost always has been for the Mountaineers, 30 will be enough.

Pick: West Virginia 41-13
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 77
The Herd will test the Mountaineer kick coverage, as Marshall is one of the country's best kick returners.

The fact that the Herd will be given plenty of opportunity to return kicks should make people realize that the Mountaineers are scoring. A lot.

West Virginia's other big weakness right now is their pass defense, and Marshall's Brian Anderson does not appear to be equipped to take advantage. Look for the Mountaineer defense to shut down the running game, give up some plays to Cody Slate in the passing game, get three or four sacks, and win this game going away.

Pick: West Virginia 42-17
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 90
Another year, another week of build-up for the Friends of Coal Bowl. True, this Marshall team is certainly better than any of the previous three that have faced West Virginia since the resumption of this intra-state series. That's not saying much, though.

By season's end, I think the Herd will Thunder all the way to a bowl game. On Saturday, however, they'll fall victim to the lightning-quick feet of Noel Devine and company. The fact remains that so long as this series is played, no game will ever live up to what happened in 1997, when both rosters were stocked with NFL talent and the Mountaineers prevailed in a 42-31 shootout.

On a completely different note, what's with the green helmets? Every now and then on special occasions ("green outs") I can see them as a change of pace. But every week? EVERY week? I don't much care for them.

Pick: West Virginia 38-17
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 78
Though WVU has never lost to Marshall in football, not all of them have been easy victories for the Mountaineers. The 1997 and 2007 meetings were battles, but the key is that West Virginia has had more talent and has always found a way to win. That should be the case in ‘09 as well.
Pick: West Virginia 35-14

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