PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Is coaching experience a prerequisite to winning this competition? If so, that could explain Chris' dominance in this competition. He's won it again -- even before the final game is played.
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 10-2||Pt Diff: 332|
Not much has gone right for the Mountaineers this week. First with starting center and OLine anchor Joey Madsen being declared academically ineligible, and then with the winter storms that hit the Northeast costing WVU valuable practice time in New York.
So, naturally, I'll take the Mountaineers in this one.
|Pick: West Virginia 41-32|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 9-3||Pt Diff: 310|
|You would think that the final game in a Mountaineer uniform will bring out the best in West Virginia's big three – Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. No matter how well the WVU offense performs, though, West Virginia's defense is going to have to slow down Syracuse's own dynamic offense. The guess is WVU will do so, but just barely.|
|Pick: West Virginia 45-42|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 8-4||Pt Diff: 316|
The Mountaineers will be looking for revenge as they travel to The Bronx to take on the Syracuse Orange. SU owns a two-game win streak against WVU including last season's shellacking in the Carrier Dome.
The key to stopping the Orange will be forcing Ryan Nassib into bad decisions. In the Orange's seven wins the senior QB had only two interceptions. He threw seven picks in their five losses.
With the weather forecast calling for snow, it sets up a perfect situation for the Mountaineers, because as we all know, revenge is best served cold.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-31|
|Tony Dobies||Last Week: W||Season: 8-4||Pt Diff: 337|
|West Virginia is a more talented team than Syracuse, but that surely hasn't mattered the last two times these teams have met. The Mountaineers are going to have to put up the offensive numbers it knows it's capable of to beat the Orange. Defensively, maybe West Virginia has found a way to cover a tight end - or anyone for that matter. It will be cold and nothing like what last year's bowl was, so it will be interesting to see who's more motivated in this one.|
|Pick: West Virginia 55-38|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 7-5||Pt Diff: 300|
At this point, we have 12 games' worth of evidence to use in judging this West Virginia football team. Honestly, in some ways, I feel as though I have just as little idea of what to expect as I did when the season began. Will the offense be the explosive, seemingly impossible to stop unit it was against Marshall, Baylor, Texas and Kansas? Or will it lay an egg as it did against Kansas State and Texas Tech? Will the defense make plays to stop drives as it did against Iowa State and Kansas? Or will it yield on big plays as it did against TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor?
Even the opponent is a bit of an unknown heading into this Pinstripe Bowl. Yes, the team is still from Syracuse, but this one has a solid passing attack unlike those of years past. The Orange dismantled WVU last year at the Carrier Dome, but that may not mean much given the changes that have happened for both programs since then.
Predicting this team, as my record would indicate, has not been the easiest of endeavors this season. Still, like the Mountaineers themselves, I'm back to give it one last try.
|Pick: West Virginia 41-34|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 7-5||Pt Diff: 348|
As Shakespeare wrote, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...".
And once more will the Mountaineers gear up for a bowl game with our old foe from the imploding Big East. There are many reasons why I don't care for this game, but those are countered by just as many reasons I am looking forward to it. Many of the reasons I don't care for the match-up lie my disappointment of this season, and what could have been. Others revolve around how much of a more interesting, and likely, very well attended and supported game it could have been if our foe had been Pitt. But that is not to be, so I look at the positives, which include payback for the last two regular season losses against SU, and that somehow this final unplanned game gives WVU a kind of symbolic closure on its prior Big East affiliation.
The outcome of this game, in my mind, is not in doubt. WVU will win this contest with another outstanding offensive performance to close out the best trio combination of players (Geno, Stedman and Tavon) we have ever seen at West Virginia. Yeah... I know, White, Slaton and Schmidt want to have a word with me... and I'll not argue the point much.
Happy Holidays Mountaineers!
|Pick: West Virginia 56-31|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 7-5||Pt Diff: 352|
When you finish at 7-5, and with a losing conference record after being expected to contend at least for the title, also-ran bowl games can be hard to get up for. But of you really fashion yourself a national player, you must take care of business. Must.
Last year, WVU got a full dose of what happens last year when a team throws in the towel just to keep from getting hurt. It isn't time to replace Clemson as the national bowl punchline.
|Pick: West Virginia 63-38|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 7-5||Pt Diff: 371|
As Mountaineer Nation finishes picking up its used wrapping paper, neatly folding or storing its ribbons, and proceeds to the return counter of its local department store, the football season comes to a close with an away game at Syracuse, or thereabouts. It's weird to be playing Syracuse, but somehow a fitting end to WVU's first Big 12 season before Syracuse departs the late, kinda-lamented Big East for the fragile coalition that is the ACC-u-later. I don't know about you, but somehow playing old Big East foes in bowl games never occurred to me. We know them well, they know us well, but there's no league championship on the line, although a bowl win would be a nice consolation prize for sticking out an unexpectedly tough season that, for the want of only two plays, could have been 9-3 instead of 7-5.
By the way, who's guarding the Schwarzwalder Trophy while all the Orange persons are in the Big Apple?
|Pick: West Virginia 52-42|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: L||Season: 7-5||Pt Diff: 390|
|The better talent and schedule belong to West Virginia. But the Mountaineers haven't executed in several games this season, and they failed to match Syracuse mentally or physically in the last series meeting. WVU's prep seems solid entering the Pinstripe Bowl, a mix of relaxed yet ready. But these Mountaineers have been a fickle mistress, and Doug Marrone seems to have the formula to win.|
|Pick: Syracuse 30-28|