PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
No one foresaw West Virginia's troubles at USF, so there's not much to smile about, either from the perspective of the game or from our pickers' success. Taylor, Jane, Cam and Matt did get a bit of breathing room over the rest of the panel, but they are still waiting on a stumble by Andy.
It's tough to pick on anyone afte such a down week, so in the interest of staff harmony we're declaring last week a mulligan.
|Andy Easton||Last Week: L||Season: 7-1||Pt Diff: 106|
|Louisville is 3-5 with victories over Indiana State, Southern Miss and Arkansas State -- not exactly an impressive list of foes. This, after a 6-6 season in 2007, a 5-7 season in 2008, and no bowl apperances since Bobby Petrino scooted to the NFL, puts head coach Steve Kragthorpe on the hot seat. I do hope Victor Anderson and Brandon Heath get to experience at least one bowl game in their Cardinal careers. Really, I do. I hope that sounded convincing. Louisville allows big plays and the Mountaineer thrive on the big gain. This one shouldn't be close but turnovers and penalties keep the Cardinals in the game until the fourth quarter.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-23|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 97|
|Hopefully the Mountaineers will be able to use this week's game against the Cardinals as a confidence booster after the disappointing loss to USF last week. As Coach Stewart has said, it is now a four game season, which makes each game crucial. More so than ever, each game is at a must-win level for the Mountaineers as they begin to eye the Big East title and start to think about bowl games. I hope to see the team get some of its chemistry back that was obviously lacking against USF. As I have said before, I don't think the offense can go wrong by putting the ball in Noel Devine's hands.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-14|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 98|
Mountaineer Nation, you really need to get a grip. One loss to South Florida does not portent apocalypse. Ask Rich Rodriguez. His two losses to them in his last two years here actually seem to have propelled him on to a bigger stage. Hopefully, eighth year senior George Selvie will finally decamp for the NFL and Geno Smith won't have to carry Selvie around the football field the way Pat and Jarrett have.
If everyone will just calm down and focus, a game with Louisville could serve us well this weekend.
|Pick: West Virginia 27-10|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 99|
|Make no mistake about it. West Virginia could lose this game if it isn't ready to play. But I just don't see that happening. The Mountaineers will be ready to go, and that will be bad news for Louisville, which no longer has the weapons to beat a good football team at the top of its game. Louisville will continue to look back to the not-so-distant glory days and wonder where they have gone, while WVU will set up a three-game season that will determine the ultimate success or failure of this year's team.|
|Pick: West Virginia 36-16|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 105|
|This is a difficult match-up for Louisville in terms of what both teams do well. The Cards have not stopped the big play, and it seems West Virginia has issues at times in piecing together consistent elongated drives throughout the game. The Cards are likely to get hit with some major gainers through the air and on the ground. That's fine, but does nothing for WVU having to operate consistently – an aspect it reads here many fans would like to see. Defensively, the Mountaineers should be able to slow Anderson and get some pressure on whatever quarterback Kragthorpe trots out. Louisville is overmatched here, as it has been all season. If it is indeed a four-game season as West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart noted, round one appears the easiest.|
|Pick: West Virginia 30-17|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 127|
|I watched a very disappointing game last Friday as the Mountaineers dropped their first conference game of the season. All season long, game after game, there seems to be some element missing with this year's squad. One week it is special teams, another week it's turnovers, another week it's a defensive breakdown. As I noted a few weeks ago, it's hard to get a handle on this team. This week's match-up with Louisville will come down to how the Mountaineers respond to a disheartening loss, and how well they are able overcome injuries to some key players. Color me Gold-n-Blue, but I have the Mountaineers coming out on top.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-17|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 130|
Nothing drives away a bad mood quite like devouring something sweet.
While that philosophy partially explains my own relatively doughy physique (witnessed personally at The Cheescake Factory last week -- Editor), it also applies to this week's opponent for the West Virginia football team. After feeling varying levels of disappointment, sadness, anger and frustration, the Mountaineers get to chow down on one of my personal favorites -- a cupcake -- this Saturday.
There is no way to (pardon the pun) sugar-coat it. Louisville is bad -- no matter what high praises Bill Stewart sang of the Cardinals during this week's media briefings. WVU will take out its frustrations on the visitors and provide fans a glimmer of hope that Stewart's much-discussed "four game season" could end with his team sporting a 4-0 record.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-13|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 134|
Finally the matchup the bashers have all been waiting for: Louisville and Steve Kragthorpe versus West Virginia and Bill Stewart -- the man accused of impersonating Steve Kragthorpe.
Never mind the fact that Stewart has done something two straight years that Kragthorpe has not done, which is become bowl eligible. No, spew the naysayers, this coaching staff is full of idiots. West Virginia is awful and Bill Stewart and his entire crew should be fired.
Hopefully the team has a bit more intestinal fortitude than a percentage of its fanbase.
In this one, the Mountaineers do enough to win, and enough to keep the town criers active. Until WVU proves that it can be physical and deliver the blow on both sides of the ball, all day long, the inferior teams will continue to hang around. This is another one that should be a 20+ point blowout.
|Pick: West Virginia 28-24|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week:L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 145|
Bravo, Steve Kragthorpe. Bravo! Were it not for you, there would be very little to talk about or look forward to regarding Saturday's game between your Louisville Cardinals and the Mountaineers. U of L enters the game winless in the Big East. West Virginia comes in on the heels of a frustrating loss to South Florida, with the armchair quarterback section of its fan base again blaming head coach Bill Stewart for not being Bill Belichick.
Kragthorpe, though, has done a great job of "wagging the dog" this week by taking some innocent potshots at the rabid atmosphere of Mountaineer Field, which has in turn channeled some of the fan base's anger from Stewart to Kragthorpe. Count me among those who will miss him at U of L when he gets shown the door at season's end.
As for the game itself, the Mountaineers should bounce back. Noel Devine should as well.
|Pick: West Virginia 30-10|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: L||Season: 5-3||Pt Diff: 129|
|Unless Victor Anderson breaks some long runs, WVU should dominate this contest. Louisville's passing attack isn't strong enough to carry U of L by itself, and WVU's offense should have a feast against a struggling Card D.|
|Pick: West Virginia 34-17|