PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Just as West Virginia played well defensively but committed a massive mistake at the end to pave the way to a loss, so too did our pickers fare in the contest. Four panelists missed the total point differential by single digits, headed by Patrick and Tony's four-point misses. Jane (eight) and Greg (nine) were in close pursuit, while Brian and Chris were only 11 points off.
However, as Herman Edwards says, "You play to win the game!" No one managed to predict that, despite the accurate score ranges, so there's much much smiling around the prediction grid this week.
Also, a shoutout to Andy, who picked Tavon Austin as the potential difference maker in the game on special teams. Little did Andy know that WVU's special teams provided TCU with just as many points as Tavon created -- and missed chances for game-winners as well.
Zero for nine pretty much wraps up this week, although Bill seems to remain unconvinced of West Virginia's offensive problems, which has led him to a cellar spot due to point differential.
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: L||Season: 6-2||Pt Diff: 243|
|No need to waste words here. The Mountaineers have given me few if any reasons to pick them to get a road W this week at Oklahoma State. I hope I'm wrong.|
|Pick: Oklahoma State 42-34|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: L||Season: 5-3||Pt Diff: 234|
|Oklahoma State's normally dynamic offense has been slowed a tad recently, as it tries to deal with the injuries at the quarterback position. As for WVU, after so many problems, its defense did show some signs of improvement this past week. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, now their offense has gone into a funk. That's not a good recipe for victory against the Cowboys.|
|Pick: Oklahoma State 42-32|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: L||Season: 5-3||Pt Diff: 269|
Not much to say this week as I'm still coming to grips with the number of ways the Mountaineers tried (and eventually succeeded) in handing over a game that should have been won. As a former coach frequently said, "It's in the past", so I'm moving on.
The defense showed improvement in my eyes, aside from two devastating plays. One when WVU once again lost coverage on a 94 yard TD play.... and once when it failed account for (another) tight end... which resulted in another TD.
The offense was average at best, and is lacking the intensity it showed in the first five games. The loss of Stedman Bailey's productivity cannot be more evident. It's obvious that for WVU's attack to be at the highest level, it needs the trinity of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Bailey to be at their best. Will that happen Saturday? We shall see.
|Pick: West Virginia 41-38|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: L||Season: 5-3||Pt Diff: 285|
|Leadership, depth, execution, desire, fundamentals. West Virginia's lacking in all. There's no reason to believe WVU can come close to winning this game. Oklahoma State is a significantly better stylistic version of the Mountaineers - this one's over from the start.|
|Pick: Oklahoma State 45-20|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 5-3||Pt Diff: 288|
Hands have been wrung, tears have been cried, anger has been exploded . . . and we still aren't sure what this Mountaineer team is all about. Despite it all, I see different body language from some of the key players on campus this week. Yes, they're still eating their fast food in the Mountainlair Food Court, but they're also talking to each other and once again starting to notice that the rest of us are noticing them. I take that as a good sign. It's subtle, I know, but I'll take what I can get.
As for the rest of you: how soon you forget our history. I remember pretty distinctly the last time WVU hired a young offensive-minded head coach and how difficult his first couple of seasons were as we adjusted to a new offensive scheme and a new defensive scheme. I also remember the mother of a defensive player (who would go on to be a consensus All-American) saying every week, "We're almost there, we're almost there." Maybe it wouldn't hurt us any to turn our clocks back to about 2001, remember how all that played out, and exercise a little patience.
As for me, I still bleed gold and blue.
|Pick: West Virginia 35-31|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: L||Season: 4-4||Pt Diff: 221|
The reality that faces West Virginia would have been almost impossible to believe just a month ago. The Mountaineers are substantial road underdogs against Oklahoma State this week. They will almost certainly be an underdog at home next week against Oklahoma. Drop both of those games, and WVU will need a win in one of its last two games -- at Iowa State or in Morgantown against Kansas -- just to get six wins and bowl eligibility.
This is a team that is seeking answers that aren't coming readily, and Stillwater won't be the easiest place to find them either. The Cowboys have the best running back in the Big 12 (Joseph Randle) and a passing attack capable of shredding WVU's struggling secondary. If West Virginia's offense can't get back on track immediately, the team's three game losing streak figures to move to four.
|Pick: Oklahoma State 41-28|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: L||Season: 4-4||Pt Diff: 242|
Can the Mountaineers overcome a three game losing streak, including a heart-breaking loss last week to TCU, a sputtering offense and a swiss cheese-like defense to defeat an OSU team on the road? I just don't see it happening.
The Blue and Gold haven't lost four straight games since 2001 and the last time WVU lost four straight games and still finished the season with a winning record was in 1973 under Coach Bobby Bowden. In order to snap a three-game skid, the Mountaineers must slow down one of the top passing attacks in the country. I have yet to see any evidence that this defense can stop anyone on a consistent basis.
|Pick: Oklahoma State 51-28|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: L||Season: 4-4||Pt Diff: 246|
This season is about to get uglier, as West Virginia is about to lose its fourth straight game. Prior to the loss to Kansas State last weekend, the Cowboys were on a roll. WVU, on the other hand, just hasn't been the same over the last month.
The Cowboys are just a bit better on offense than the Mountaineers and a little more than a bit better on defense. It doesn't seem like West Virginia's problems are fixable this far into a season, and who knows if last weekend's defensive resurgence was real or a one-game deal.
Oklahoma State will win, and there is a chance that it could get ugly. The fact that West Virginia has so much potential firepower on offense that it will be relatively close.
|Pick: Oklahoma State 45-30|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: L||Season: 4-4||Pt Diff: 262|
|Two teams that know exactly what the other is doing. Only one has the ability to do anything about it.|
|Pick: Oklahoma State 59-42|