PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Taylor's 11-point miss was the closest of the lot which had the Mountaineers rolling up far more points than they did on a bad-weather, starting quarterback-less day. Her pick jumped her up the charts atop the gang at 5-1, but everyone is still chasing Andy's 6-0 mark. Should he stumble, however, a host of pickers have better point differentials than he.
Cam (27 points) , Bill and Andy (28 apiece) took the booby prize for the week -- but who would have predicted the Mountaineers would play the majority of the game without its starting QB and one of its best defenders?
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 6-0||Pt Diff: 80|
|After the tragic events of last week its going to be hard to tell what type of focus the Huskies will have against the Mountaineers, but either way I feel like WVU has too many weapons for a young UConn team. The Huskies will stop WVU early but the Blue and Gold will eventually get theirs.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-13|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 69|
|There's no doubt that Saturday's game will be full of emotion. I think that will result in great football played by both sides. Despite the Mountaineers' many obstacles as of late, I hope to see the team continue with the progression that they have made over the course of the season. I foresee Jarrett Brown being rotated in for limited reps which could keep him fresh for future contests. As I have said before, I don't believe that the Mountaineer offense can be stopped when the ball is in the hands of Noel Devine.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-14|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 72|
The intangibles in this game really concern me. It is a difficult task to ask a team to honor and feel for its opponent before the game -- although it is certainly appropriate in this situation -- and then go out and try to punish it after the coin toss. Football is a physical game, and you have to play with some dislike for the men on the other side -- at least between the whistles. Getting off to a slow start may be a problem for the Mountaineers.
With that in mind, this game may not end up as lopsided as it could, but I still believe West Virginia's talent will overcome UConn's emotion in the end.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-20|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 73|
Given the circumstances, it's impossible to come up with snarky, smart-alecky humor for the fearless prediction this week. UConn Nation: our hearts are with you in the loss of Jasper Howard. I wish it were possible to reschedule this game, to give everyone a chance to grieve and collect themselves, but in some ways, maybe it's best to carry on as scheduled.
UConn will have a lot of heart and energy, but it won't be enough.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-21|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 79|
|This game could come down to base execution, especially on third downs. The Huskies will certainly attempt to control the ball and thus the clock via long drives and an offense that doesn't turn the ball over. West Virginia counters with more weapons, but perhaps not as much of an ability to use them with freshman quarterback Geno Smith likely to get his first career start as Jarrett Brown nurses a concussion. The Mountaineers should be able to run the football, even against Connecticut's top 30 rated defense. WVU must keep downs and distances manageable and give Smith time in the pocket. If it does those two things and hangs onto the ball in what could be a second consecutive damp outing, it wins solidly. If not, all bets are off against an emotionally-charged opponent.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-17|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 91|
Questions. That's the theme for this weekend's match-up with the UConn Huskies. Will Jarrett Brown play? If Geno Smith starts, how will he perform? How will the tragedy at UConn affect the players on both sides of the field? How will WVU play against their toughest Big East challenge to date?
West Virginia certainly has the talent to come out of this game on the winning side, as long as it plays fairly mistake-free football. A couple of turnovers against a decent Huskies team could change the complexion of the game. The defense should have another productive day and take some of the pressure off of the offense as the Mountaineers improve to 2-0 in Big East play with a victory.
|Pick: West Virginia 35-17|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 98|
While I'm not a fan of being forced into a pick before we even have any indication of who the starting quarterback will be, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume Jarrett Brown plays.
UConn will obviously be playing with emotion in spades. While it's a different type of feeling than WVU had for the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, we all saw what a team fueled in that manner can do when the Mountaineers throttled Oklahoma that night.
That being said, the Xs and Os just don't quite add up in a way that will allow the Huskies to ruin West Virginia's Homecoming weekend. Much like Marshall a week ago, UConn's biggest offensive threats come from its ground game. Stopping the run is the forte of the Mountaineer defense, and that will prove to be the difference.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-17|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 105|
UConn brings a stingy defense and a solid running game to Morgantown, along with a heavy heart. West Virginia comes into the game with a big question mark at QB and a fresh suspension of top defensive lineman Scooter Berry.
While the Mountaineers had time last week to break in their true freshman QB, it is highly doubtful that UConn will have had time to recover from the loss of one of their star players, which is far more serious than a concussion or an arrest for disorderly stupidity.
The bookmakers place this as a nine point edge for West Virginia. I am not sure how to read this. Once again, in my opinion, it comes down to turnovers. If WVU wins the turnover battle, the game will be 17+ in favor of WVU.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-17|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 5-1||Pt Diff: 114|
Everyone knows that Connecticut comes to Morgantown with heavy hearts on Saturday as this game will be played less than a week after the murder of starting UConn DB Jasper Howard. It reads here that the Huskies will channel all of the emotions of the past week into a valiant effort against the Mountaineers.
Unfortunately for them, though, all of that emotion won't be enough to takedown the streaking occupants of Milan Puskar Stadium. No matter who is playing QB for WVU, they'll do what needs to be done -- that being getting the ball into the hands of Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, Alric Arnett and the other Mountaineer playmakers (Ryan Clarke anybody??)
Here's hoping that the home crowd stands in support of the Huskies when they run out of the tunnel.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-21|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 4-2||Pt Diff: 96|
|UConn likes to play it close to the vest, using a strong defense and a good running attack to control the tempo. But WVU has been too explosive for the Huskies in the past, and that should be the case this season as well.|
|Pick: West Virginia 32-13|