PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Andy hung on to the top spot, but Matt Keller broke up the girls' club in second place with a miss of just 11 points. Greg escaped his solo spot in the cellar with a ten-point miss. Could he be on a late-season roll?
Can't fault anyone for picking the Bearcats in the contest, but Bill's 36-point whiff was the largest of the season to date. Still, he's no worse than sixth this week.
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 9-1||Pt Diff: 149|
|I do not like Pitt, I would never like Pitt and I will never explain to anyone why I think Pitt will beat WVU this year.|
|Pick: Pittsburgh 30-13|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 8-2||Pt Diff: 137|
|Pitt has quickly risen to the top 10, but hasn't played a very difficult slate. The Panthers numbers are impressive, and indeed they have stockpiled some talent and what has amounted in its final year to a good senior class. West Virginia appears overwhelmed along its offensive line, but it still has playmakers. Jarrett Brown got back to form against Cincinnati, and WVU used portions of the power running game, the vertical pass and some ball control. The Mountaineers also have an advantage on special teams and are facing a team that doesn't return kickoffs well. The home team might need a break or two, but it reads here an upset is brewing. West Virginia plays solidly on defense, holds Pitt to the low 20s and finds a way to amass 28 points itself.|
|Pick: West Virginia 28-24|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 8-2||Pt Diff: 141|
|If there's one thing you can count on in this life (other than death and taxes), it's that the Backyard Brawl will be unpredictable and something unexpected will happen. That's true for this year as well as every year.|
|Pick: West Virginia 21-20|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: L||Season: 7-3||Pt Diff: 140|
|As the Mountaineers prepare for the 102nd edition of the Backyard Brawl, they are stuck in yet another must win situation. Although Pitt has had quite the run this season, the game is being held on Black Friday and it is the Backyard Brawl, both which are known for their rather interesting outcomes. There's no other day of the year when people wake up in the middle of the night to go purchase a variety of expensive electronics and other items for more than half off the original price. Many Americans would consider that magic in itself. Also, if Mountaineer fans learned anything at all during the Backyard Brawl two years ago, it is that anything is possible. With the tables turned and Pittsburgh coming back to Morgantown for the first time since that infamous December 1, 2007 meeting, one can only hope that the underdog will pull off the upset yet again.|
|Pick: West Virginia 21-17|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: L||Season: 7-3||Pt Diff: 144|
|I'll never pick against the Mountaineers in the Backyard Brawl no matter the circumstances. It simply isn't in my blood.|
|Pick: West Virginia 30-23|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 8-2||Pt Diff: 165|
Since the midpoint of the season, I've told all who would listen that it is Pittsburgh -- and not Cincinnati -- that is the best team in the Big East Conference.
The difference is that the team's offense has finally caught up to its teammates on the defensive side of the ball. The emergence of Bill Stull as a solid quarterback (thanks in no small part to the talent of the players he throws the ball to -- notably receiver Jonathan Baldwin) has only made life easier for freshman phenom Dion Lewis on the ground.
Having an offense that finally presents a multidimensional threat has been the key making the Panthers a top ten team nationally. Could you imagine what LeSean McCoy could have done if the Pitt passing game had been this big of a threat a year ago?
While West Virginia had its best performance of the season against Cincinnati, it still wasn't enough to take out the Bearcats. Unless the Mountaineers can rise to an even higher level in all three phases of the game, the result will likely be the same this week.
|Pick: Pittsburgh 27-20|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week:W||Season: 8-2||Pt Diff: 174|
Since the beginning of the season, I've been humbled quite a bit in the Fearless Picks contest. In past years, I've spent a bulk of the season at or near the top of the standings with a mega-sized target on my back that grows more and more faint to those trailing me as the contest nears its conclusion. Now? I'm barely treading water, getting outpaced by sizeable margins week in and week out by the rest of the pickers, including a GIRL! Needless to say, this isn't what I expect.
Of course I'm also far removed from the WVU football scene, not even coming within 500 miles of a game all season and seeing but one practice in the preseason. In the past, I was able to prepare intensely for the weekly pick. Now? Not so much.
The same can be said for WVU in the Big East. Usually, the Mountaineers are at or near the top of the conference standings and expect to be so. This year, they're out of it completely with two weeks to go, needing two wins and a little help just to even be considered for the Gator Bowl.
Still, I'm not giving away anything yet. And neither are the Mountaineers, especially to Pitt. The Panthers are vastly improved, but are they good enough to win a third straight over West Virginia? Well, probably, but I'll still never pick Pitt over WVU in football. I can't. It's unnatural and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I could. Chalk this up as a prediction made strictly from the heart.
|Pick: West Virginia 100-0|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 8-2||Pt Diff: 196|
West Virginia's biggest weakness on offense is the offensive line.
Pitt's strength on defense is its defensive line.
Pitt's offensive line has paved the way for the league's #2 offense that runs and throws with equal ability.
West Virginia can't stop the pass without giving up big chunks on the ground.
I don't care. I am never picking Pitt to beat West Virginia in anything.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-0|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 7-3||Pt Diff: 164|
|Pitt has certainly played spoiler for the Mountaineers in the past, and now West Virginia hopes to turn the trick. But that's easier said than done. You have to give Pitt credit – it is playing very well right now. WVU is going to have to come up with its best effort of the year if it wants to score the upset.|
|Pick: Pittsburgh 24-21|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: L||Season: 7-3||Pt Diff: 173|
|As West Virginia comes back to Mountaineer Field for the last home game of the year, I cannot help but feel like I'm returning to the scene of a crime. A little less than two years ago there certainly was a heinous crime committed as WVU lost out of a BCS Championship game by a final score that has become a derogatory term: 13-9. This year the tables are turned around somewhat with WVU playing the spoiler for their arch rivals from the North. This, I think, is a defining game for the seniors and this team for the year and I don't see WVU losing a third straight to the Panthers.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-28|