PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
There's not much smiling around the BGN compound these days, but Patrick did manage a 20-point miss to lead the week's selections for the Oklahoma game. Chris keeps his one-game lead, but a stumble would have Greg right on his heels for the overall title.
Brian and Jane are locked in cellar-avoiding battle that may only be determined by the one that first picks against the Mountaineers -- or a return by WVU to the victory column.
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 8-2||Pt Diff: 279|
I'm not excited about this game at all. Mostly because it should be Pitt week, and instead the Mountaineers are heading to Ames (the town, not the now-defunct discount shopping store). I miss the Backyard Brawl already. Can someone make it happen? Please?
On to this one. If West Virginia's defense can sustain any type of consistent effort against an Iowa State bunch that ranks either 9th or 10th in the Big 12 in every offensive category, the Mountaineers should bust out of their five-game tailspin. A win here would be huge for morale heading into the home finale with Kansas, not to mention clinch bowl eligibility.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-35|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 7-3||Pt Diff: 274|
|Iowa State is the first team WVU has faced in Big 12 play so far this season that doesn't overwhelm you with a juggernaut offense. The Cyclones try to win with solid defense that gets timely turnovers. Turnover margin is generally something in WVU's favor, though (+5 on the season), and unless WVU gives it away a bunch in Ames, this is a game it can – and should – win.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-28|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 7-3||Pt Diff: 332|
|Iowa State, at home, on Senior Day...the Cyclones have just enough in the tank.|
|Pick: Iowa State 29-28|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week:W||Season: 6-4||Pt Diff: 261|
|West Virginia desperately needs a win to avoid the blackest of Black Friday scenarios -- a six-game losing streak and heading into the final game of the season needing a win to simply attain bowl eligibility. It won't be easy in Ames, though. The Cyclones pushed Kansas State to the brink and earned nice wins at TCU and at home vs. Baylor. No numbers jump off the page when one examines Iowa State, but it's a sound football team with a defense that did a nice job against spread attacks from Baylor (21 points allowed) and Texas Tech (24). No team has scored more than 35 on the Cyclones. Given the state of WVU's defense, will that be enough to earn a much-needed road win?|
|Pick: Iowa State 35-31|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 6-4||Pt Diff: 282|
Although they lost their fifth straight game, the Mountaineers did seem to get back on track on the offensive side of the ball against Oklahoma. Can they make a repeat performance on the road this week against Iowa State? They will have to in order to make up for the worst defense in the history of WVU football, and its not even close!
The Gold and Blue are giving up over 42 points per game. Eliminate WVU's first season in 1891 -- when it played but one game and lost 72-0 -- you have to look back to the 1978 team that gave up 33.1 points per game to find the second worst defensive season in history.
Iowa State is a solid team with a new-found talent at quarterback and three wins in the Big 12. If they Mountaineers can get production out of the running game and not turn the ball over, they will become bowl eligible.
|Pick: West Virginia 38-34|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 6-4||Pt Diff: 283|
West Virginia will finally end its skid, but it will be a close one on Black Friday. The Mountaineers will be able to take advantage of the fact that the Cyclones have one of the worst passing defenses in the league. Last week was a realization for many - that Tavon Austin is the team's best player. He should get just as many touches as he did against Oklahoma if needed. That should be enough, because West Virginia has the most talented players on the field.
Maybe Tyler Bitancurt might actually come through for the Mountaineers on Friday, as well. Maybe. Either way, the Mountaineers will be bowl eligible by Friday evening.
|Pick: West Virginia 37-34|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 6-4||Pt Diff: 300|
|The Mountaineer defense creates another Big 12 offensive player of week while the offensive line once again struggles with one of the better defenses in the league.|
|Pick: Iowa State 38-27|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: L||Season: 5-5||Pt Diff: 316|
What a long season this has turned into. The offense seems to have the spark back, especially with the phenomenal performance from Tavon Austin, and the defense has shown some promise. Yes, WVU is still giving up a ton of points and a ton of yards and has lost five in a row. But the intensity and effort seems to be picking up, and there feels like there is at least a pulse in the last few games from the much maligned group.
In each of West Virginia's five losses, there has been at least one part of the game that has been anAchilles heel. And just a note here... there are NOT just three sides of the ball to a football team. There are four: offense, defense, special teams and coaching. The fact that this is an away game gives an edge to the home team, but I'm hoping this team has some Mountaineer pride left in itm and wants to finish out the season on an upward note.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-31|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: L||Season: 5-5||Pt Diff: 332|
OK, everybody sing along (to the tune of "Jingle Bells"):
Biletnikoff, Biletnikoff, Stedman rules the world.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-31|