Road To The BCS: Cincinnati


I really hate games like this. Why? Because this is a true test. We enter Cincinnati favored by the smallest margin of the year, 6 points. We’re playing on the road, against a team that creates about 37 turnovers per game (actually, 3.5/game), in the national spotlight. Beat Cincinnati and it should be a marquee win. But it won’t be. National pundits will write it off simply as beating Cincinnati, once a basketball powerhouse. But however the nation wants to look at it, we still need to get it done Saturday night under the lights. Here’s how it’s going to happen…

When WVU has the ball:

West Virginia’s offense has been very hot/cold this year. In games like Western Michigan, East Carolina, and Rutgers, we have been unstoppable. Against USF, however, we absolutely flat-lined. Unfortunately for us, Cincinnati’s defense is as close to the USF squad as we’ve seen. Plus, they’re also playing in the “biggest game in program history,” just as the USF game was billed. Need another reason why Cincinnati’s defense is going to be geeked up?

If this game doesn’t go to plan, it will almost assuredly be blamed on turnovers. Cincinnati leads the nation in takeaways (35), though the majority of those have come on interceptions (22). West Virginia, while having the fewest giveaways in the Big EAST, has started a recent trend of putting the ball on the turf in key situations. Interceptions don’t scare me. Pat White has done a great job throughout his career of managing games and keeping his throws out of high-risk situations. It’s the fumbling that could be troubling. If WVU can hang onto the ball for 60 minutes, I really like our chances. If not? I don’t want to even think.

When Cincinnati has the ball:

The WVU defense should be prepared for Louisville lite this week. The Bearcat offense revolves around the arm of Ben Mauk. If he is able to throw the ball down the field, as Brohm did last week, the holes may open in the running game.

This puts extra pressure on Mundy and Andrews to step up in run support. Cincinnati is a more complete offense team than Louisville. They will not abandon run to throw the ball 60 times. This may scare some people but I think it plays right into the strength of WVU’s defense.

We will stuff the run and fill the holes that opened in the secondary last week. Look for Mundy and Andrews to have break-out games.

I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no clue that the head coach at Cincinnati was Brian Kelly up until a few weeks ago. He has an impressive all-time record of 137-52-2, and has captured two Division II National Championships during his time at Grand Valley State. Good job, sir. Too bad this is the Football Bowl Series and CRR will be peering into his soul from the opposite sideline. For all the grief I give CRR I still love him as our coach and he does a hell of a job a majority of the time.

For all the talk about the WVU offense versus the Bearcat defense, the game could ultimately determined by special teams. Devine should be back for every kickoff after almost breaking one against Louisville and with the risk-taker Rivers returning punts it could always be all or nothing.

Picks To Click:

UPDATE: forgot to include the predicted WVU score. Ooops.

West Virginia (-6) 29
Cincinnati 19

Note: Stiles predicts a Cincinnati win. Feel free to stone him to death.

Stiles (season record = 31-27-2)

Air Force Force Force -11 vs. San Diego State
Clemson -8.5 vs. Boston College
Houston -11.5 vs. Marshall
Michigan +4 vs. Ohio State
Oklahoma @ Texas Tech OVER 66

5th Year Senior (season record = 20-14-2)

Michigan +4 vs. Ohio State
Syacuse +18.5 @ UConn
Kansas State +7.5 vs Missouri
Rice -3 vs. Tulane
Cal -7 @ Washington

Charley West (season record = 34-25-1)

Miss. State +11 @ Arkansas (in Little Rock)
Kansas State +7.5 vs. Missouri (in Kansas City)
Wisconsin -14 @ Minnesota
Northwestern +13.5 @ Illinois
NC State +6.5 @ Wake Forest

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My Picks to Click


If I’m not to drunk at 5 I will be doing a live blog for the LSU – Bama, and Oregon – Arizona State games. I’ve got two TV’s setup in the basement, and ready for a great day of college football. Looking into the crystal ball I see at least one upset today.

If you come here for your Saturday picks, I think you’re drunk. Here is what I’m feeling:

Wisconsin + 16 at tOSU
Nebraska +20 at Kansas
FSU + 7 at BC (I’m also inclined to take the under at 41 because it is going to be torrential downpour.)
Washington -3 at Stanford
Notre Dame -3 vs Navy

I just saw a WVU flag way in the back of College GameDay in Oregon.

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Road To The BCS: Rutgers


We’ve been half-assing our game previews since, well, this blog started. Starting today and continuing before each game, we’ll be rolling out a more complete look at the upcoming game. Today, we turn to Rutgers.

When WVU is on offense:

When Pat White, Steve Slaton and the rest of the offense take the field, the offense will look much different than the one that Rutgers saw last year. With a revamped offense line that will likely be revamped again this week and a healthy Pat White; Rutgers will see a lot more runs during this contest.

After watching the South Florida-Rutgers game, I’m pretty sure Rod will be attacking the same things I saw. Look I’m not saying I’m a football coach, or could play one on TV, but some things were obvious. Case in point, the number of times Matt Grothe was able to get outside the tackles and take advantage of Rutgers linebackers over pursing plays. Therefore, I look for a lot of fake handoffs to Slaton and Schmidt up the middle and White get on the outside and cut up the field. (Imagine the first play from scrimmage against Mississippi State) Also, West Virginia needs to avoid having White sit in the pocket. The Bulls did more of this with Grothe in the second half which led to five Rutgers sacks.

Most importantly, WVU just needs to avoid turnovers and sloppy play. In their last two big road games (Louisville ’06 and South Florida ’07), West Virginia was ultimately done in by these two factors. Because of the South Florida game, White and Slaton have taken a hit nationally; this is their game to get back on track.

When WVU is on defense:

The key to this game is stopping Ray Rice. The key to stopping Ray Rice is hitting him before he really gets his momentum going. Rice is one of the best down hill runners in college football. He destroyed USF last week between the tackles. We need to keep Wicks close to the line on the edge to allow the linebackers to plug the middle if a hole opens.

So after we lock down Rice, with the 11th best rush D in the country, we have nothing to worry about because Mike Teel is not good enough to beat the number 5 pass defense in the country. Mundy locks down the deep ball and with a re-energized Johnny Dingle ready to decapitate Teel we are looking pretty good. If Teel does have time, Lankster will be covering Underwood, like we all wish panties would cover Britney’s vajayjay.

Over the past few weeks, except for the deep pass in the USF game, this D has made me a believer. If we lock down Rutgers, the rest of the nation is soon to follow.

Overall:

WVU has historically dominated Rutgers, to the tune of 28-4-2. The last loss came in 1994. That record, however, is misleading, because this Rutgers program is nothing like the one that took an 80-7 whooping by an awful WVU squad in 2001.

Greg Schiano is a star coach in this conference, probably only second to our own Rich Rodriguez. Luckily, though, Schiano doesn’t (yet) have our number, like USF’s Jim Leavitt. That said, Schiano’s squad put up a helluva fight last year in Morgantown. Then again, that game was played without start QB Pat White. White is expected to play the entire game tomorrow afternoon. Another huge difference between last year and tomorrow is the Rutgers defense. What was once a very fast, experienced squad is still fast, but graduation has really hurt this defense. A defense that eventually gave up 41 points to WVU with its backup QB.

This is a stern test, but not one that should keep us out of the BCS picture. After Rutgers’ win against USF, a win tomorrow will make more than a ripple on the national landscape. This is a good win, if we can get it. Our bet? We get it.

WVU (-6) 27
Rutgers 14

Stiles (loves underdogs)

Washington State +6 vs. UCLA
NC State +4 vs. Virginia
South Carolina +2.5 @ Tennessee
Mississippi State +14 @ Kentucky
UConn +4.5 vs. USF

5th Year Senior

Purdue -12.5 vs. Northwestern
Florida -7.5 vs. Georgia
Nebraska +21.5 @ Texas
FIU +40.5 @ Arkansas
Clemson -3.5 @ Maryland

Charley West

Indiana +8.5 @ Wisconsin
Colorado +12.5 @ Texas Tech
UConn +4.5 vs. South Florida
Texas A&M +2.5 vs. Kansas
Michigan State -3 @ Iowa

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One-Loss Season: Mississippi State

Stiles

Fresh off the bye week, it’s time for the second half of the season. On deck is an interesting Mississippi State team that looks much improved from last year. Other than the whopping that LSU put on them in Game One, the Bulldogs have shown to be that one can’t afford to overlook, just ask Auburn. However, with a rested and recharged West Virginia team, I don’t think they have the ‘bite’ to hang with our beloved ‘Eers. I look for the passing game and Slaton to play big roles in a comfortable win for West Virignia.

WVU (-24) 31
Mississippi State 10

Florida -6.5 @ Kentucky
South Carolina -14 vs. Vanderbilt
Michigan @ Illinois OVER 49.5
East Carolina -6
vs. NC State
Auburn +10 @ LSU

5th Year Senior

We play a fast Mississippi State defense this weekend that has given a few teams in the SEC some trouble. Does that spell doom for a Mountaineer BCS birth? HELL NO!

They may be fast but CRR will call one hell of a game this Saturday. He will spread the ball around to his playmakers, and continue to establish a vertical passing game. This will open holes in running game we should rush for over 300 yards again.

Do not worry about the Bulldog’s offensive attack. Starting a Freshman QB, against this ball-hawking defense, at a raucous Mountaineer Field — means an easy W.

WVU (-24) 48
Mississippi State 10

Louisville -3 @ UConn
Wake Forest -3 @ Navy
Michigan State +18.5 @ Ohio State
East Carolina -6 vs. NC State
Michigan -1 @ Illinois

Charley West

This is not your older brother’s Mississippi State squad. Faster and better, this team is actually showing improvement in the SEC. A big win against Auburn – at Auburn – and a competitive effort last week versus Tennessee are just two examples of that.

Sitting at 3-2 and with a very good schedule, Mississippi State is not a puff-cake victory, if we can get one. We should be able to control the game throughout, but this will still be a tough game. My prediction? We win, but Mississippi State covers.

WVU (-24) 31
Mississippi State 10

UConn +2.5 vs. Louisville
Pitt +10.5 vs. Cincinnati
Notre Dame +17 @ USC
Michigan -1 @ Illinois
Missouri -3 vs. Texas Tech

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Picks To Click: Bye Edition


No game previews today, just winners.

Stiles

Oregon -19 vs. Washington State
South Carolina -7 @ UNC
Wisconsin +7 @ Penn State
Cincinnati -10 vs. Louisville
Miss. State +7 vs. Tennessee

Season Record = 18-18-0 (50%)

5th Year Senior

Illinois -4.5 vs. Iowa
Michigan -5.5 vs. Purdue
Auburn +3 @ Arkansas
Georgia -7 vs. Vanderbilt
Texas A&M +10 @ Texas Tech

Season Record = 7-5-0 (58%)

Charley West

Michigan -5.5 vs. Purdue
California -14 vs. Oregon State
Texas Tech -10 vs. Texas A&M
Virginia -3 vs. UConn
TCU -6 @ Stanford

Season Record = 20-16-0 (55%)

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1-Loss Season: Week #6


Well, that sucked. As you can tell, my heart just hasn’t been in this blog for the past week. In fact, it was all I could do to not get in a tepid bath and drop in a working toaster. Be happy for me that I’m at least still with us. Anyways, enough of my quasi-suicidal thoughts, let’s get to the Syracuse game previews.

Stiles

How will they bounce back? That’s the question. My guess. They come out and try to establish the run early and often. And hold a nice lead after one. From there, the Mounties pull away.

Does this change the devastating loss from last week. Nope. But WVU can still get to a BCS bowl game. And it starts on Saturday.

WVU (-27) 42
Syracuse 17

Eastern Michigan +29.5
Oklahoma -11 vs. Texas
Georgia +1 @ Tennessee
Cincy +4 @ Rutgers
Virginia -10 @ Middle Tennessee State

5th Year Senior

Oh how the mighty have fallen. No, I’m not talking about WVU after that loss because we will be just fine. I’m speaking of the Syracuse Orangemen, wait they dropped the men because women think they are equal (I don’t care who are that is funny). The Orange were once a Big East power but are now terrible.
I only need to give you two stats to show who is going to win the game. The Syracuse defense on average allows 34 points and 231 rushing yards a game. So CRR’s play-calling that I’ve been complaining about for the past week will work against the Orange. Andrew Robinson will be able throw the ball a little on our D but this should be an easy win to get our Big East record to .500.

WVU (-27) 47
Syracuse 10

Virginia -10 vs. Mid Tennessee St.
Nebraska + 6 at. Missouri
Oklahoma vs. Texas UNDER 55
NC State +17.5 at FSU
Georgia vs. Tennessee

Charley West

I hope we win tomorrow.

WVU (-27) 44
Syracuse 13

Cincinnati +4 @ Rutgers
Missouri -6 vs. Nebraska
Iowa +9 @ Penn State
UCLA -22.5 vs. Notre Dame
Virginia -10 @ Middle Tennessee State

Undefeated Season: Week #4


Stiles

Hoo boy. The revenge game. The big one.

On the heels of last weeks dominating performance against a decent East Carolina team, my expecatitions are sky high this week. Last year against USF, EVERYTHING went wrong for the Mountaineers. And yet, there was WVU with a chance to score at the end to win the game.

This year, I see a bloodbath. WVU is deeper, faster and more talented than last year. The defense has come alive and the offense has been tremendous. USF is a nice team who will win more games than they lose. It just so happens that this week they play a great team. One that will take care of business. In a big way.

WVU (-7) 38
USF 13

Houston -10.5 vs. East Carolina
Rutgers -16.5 vs. Maryland
Clemson -3 @ Georgia Tech
Troy -13 vs. UL Monroe
Penn State -3 @ Illinois

Season Record = 14-10-0

5th Year Senior

Alright time to get down to business and make some predictions for this Friday’s game. Wait a second who are we playing on Friday? USF…Never heard of’em. They have a fast defense? Well we have Slaton, White, Reynaud, Devine, Schmitt, and Jalloh. They have a talented offense? Well we have a defense, especially Dykes, that will eat their unborn children. That being said we are going to win going away.

WVU (-7) 37
USF 17

Penn St. -3 (my dad would KILL me if I said that out loud)
Colorado + 22.5 vs. Oklahoma
UCLA +1.5 @ Oregon State
Tulane +40.5 vs. LSU
Louisville -9 @ NC State

Season Record = 0-0-0

Charley West

CRR has said that revenge is not a great motivator. Maybe not. But I can’t imagine that our players aren’t going to have it in the back of their minds.

This is USF’s “game of the century,” with over 65,000 in attendance, so you know both the players and fans are going to be geeked up for this one. That might make for a rough first quarter. But at the end of the day, WVU is the more talented team.

The game should play out very similarly to the Maryland game. We score first, but their offense responds with a ton of adrenaline and a matching touchdown. It’s at that point that our defense settles down and out offense starts to methodically beat-down the Bulls.

If there’s any amount of scoring in this game, it’s to our advantage. USF will want to limit possessions and keep this game in the low 20s or teens, just like last year. This year, however, we have a healthy White and Slaton, making that an impossible task.

WVU (-7) 37
USF 20

Illinois +3 vs. Penn State
Oklahoma @ Colorado OVER 55.5
Virginia -7 vs. Pitt
Louisville -9 @ NC State
Clemson -3 @ Georgia Tech

Season Record = 14-10-0