The Smoking Musket Pick Em Gauntlet is an online college pick em game where we will try to pick the winners of the weekly Big 12 contests plus Yahoo! editors' selected games (usually the games involving the top 25 teams). We do pick against the spread (when available). There are usually 20-30 games to pick each week and each correct pick is worth one point. The winner (excluding Musket staff) will be the person at the end of the regular season who has the most correct picks/points. Points are cumulative, so don't worry if you happen to miss a week or two. We will award the winner a WVU Nike T-shirt at the conclusion of the games in December.
All participants are subject to the Official Rules (PDF document link) as determined by SB Nation.
Our game, as in the past, will be hosted by Yahoo! Fantasy. GAME LINK
Group Name: The Smoking Musket
Group ID: 8233
Group password: WestByGod
We have 21 games to pick this week, starting with games on Friday night (7 pm ET) continuing through the Saturday slate. Deadline for each pick is 5 minutes before kickoff.
We will once again also be featuring staff predictions for the weekly WVU game (or game of interest on the off-weeks). Without further adieu (and in no particular order this week):
It's a closer than usual opener due to Georgia Southern's ball hogging style. The Mountaineers are able to make enough big plays to pull away. Unnecessary panic ensues.
The Mountaineer Defense comes out strong and shows it has deserved the off season hype. There are also several bright spots offensively and Skyler Howard looks very capable at the QB position.
Two "quirky option" defensive miscues early on, but then they settle into what we expect for the season. The offense is more potent than expected and puts on the breaks after 3 quarters so Crest can get some reps. Russel Shell goes 100+ yards for the first time in his 1,000 yard season.
I think Georgia Southern will be able to keep their offense on the field with long possessions to shorten the game, at least in the first half. That combined with some first game jitters allows the Eagles to cover the spread.
GSU moves the ball between the 20's but stalls in the red zone several times and settles for field goals. WVU on the other hand turns their red zone possessions into touchdowns, and tacks on a couple long Lambert field goals along the way.
Week 1 will continuously be brought up throughout the rest of the year as the game "West Virginia gave up 350 rushing yards to Georgia Southern when Kevin Ellison didn't even play. EERS DEFENSE AIN'T THAT GOOD." when the Eagles might have the best rushing attack in the country. We walk away unhappy it was so close. Georgia Southern walks away unhappy with a loss. No one is happy. This game is dumb. Why are we even playing it? Let's just cancel it and play Liberty twice.
Georgia Southern's offense will grind out enough long drives to keep things interesting heading into the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers won't make it look pretty, but they'll make the necessary plays down the stretch.
Kyle Rose is your player of the game, clogging up the middle and freeing our linebackers and safeties to make plays. Bookmark it!
Red zone is still a problem for the Mountaineers as Josh Lambert launches his 2015 Groza campaign with 4 FGs - all from 35 or shorter. Skyler is solid and Gibby's Junkyard Dogs are about as good as advertised. Nothing stops the option like great linebackers.
Skyler Howard gets off to a hot start finding multiple receivers for touchdowns and with no pass game of their own GSU falls to a veteran WVU defense controlling the line of scrimmage.
A rocky first quarter puts a little scare into Mountaineer Nation, but things start clicking and the Mountaineers pull away. The defense gift wraps the game with a fumble return in the second half.
Mountaineers defense only gives up a TD on the opening drive due to rust. The rest of the way they dominate the GSU offense. Skyler Howard throws for 250 yards and 3 TD's.
So, Georgia Southern isn't quite new to this level of competition, having been at our level the last two years, and winning its conference (Sun Belt) in their first year of membership. They run an offense that no one runs, and is difficult to prepare for....
They averaged 32 points per game against legit foes last year. I think holding them under that number, especially considering the fact that the personnel we have recruited the last 3 years are designed for holding Big XII opponents under five scores, would be a reasonable expectation.
Our best case scenario is a quick start, perhaps a 3-touchdown lead early, that nullifies their heavy run-dependence.
I hate making predictions and this game scares the bejeezus out of me. I do have faith in our veteran defense and think the offense will be fine. I just don't know about this one.