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The Smoking Musket College Pick ‘Em Gauntlet Is Back, And The Staff Predicts West Virginia Vs. Missouri

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Our annual pick 'em game is back! Play along to win a Nike WVU shirt and stick around for the staff predictions.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

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 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: 6357

Group password: LetsGo

UPDATE (9/2/16)

It looks like we’ve filled up that first group, so a second group has been created. You’ll still compete against everyone in the first group so JOIN IN!

Group Name: The Smoking Musket II

Group ID: 10963

Group password: LetsGo

We have 26 games to pick this week, starting with games on Friday night (7:30 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):

WVUNite

When the Mountaineers end the season, and years later, no one is going to remember that this game was close for three and a half quarters before Skyler Howard connected with Shelton Gibson for his second touchdown to give the Mountaineers a ten point lead. Nor will anyone remember that Jarrod Harper’s stop on 4th down allowed Mike Molina to give the Mountaineers the additional points, which made this game look worse than it really was. It was close for a while, but the Mountaineers never trailed. And Howard showed promise with 300 yards and 60% passing.

Final Score:
West Virginia 34
Missouri 21

Patrick Southern

It's a rare occasion that West Virginia's season-opener comes against an opponent that could actually provide some clues for how the team's season will go. In the program's recent history, only the 2014 opener against Alabama provided WVU with a true test to begin the campaign. Before that, you'd have to go back to the 2005 opener at Syracuse, billed during that offseason as a litmus test for whether a young Mountaineer team would make a bowl game (finishing with a lackluster 15-7 win that hardly served notice to the nation of the Sugar Bowl championship-winning team that was developing in Morgantown).

On the scale from Alabama to Syracuse, this season's first opponent, Missouri, falls decidedly more towards the Orange side of things. No one will mistake Mizzou for a national championship contender, and thus this game merits the usual warning attached to season-openers: don't attempt to make too many broad conclusions about WVU based solely on what you see on the field on Saturday. Good or bad. Football teams can, and often do, evolve considerably through the course of a 12-game season. By the time it was ripping through Georgia's run defense in the Sugar Bowl, the only resemblance the aforementioned 2005 team bore to the squad that beat Syracuse was that they wore the same uniforms.

But I can't shake the feeling that this year's opener may actually tell a bit of the story about the season that awaits us. Expect a defense that is saltier than many across the country assume, given the talent that departed from last year's team (and the unfortunate season-ending-before-it-began injury to Dravon Askew-Henry). Expect an offense that, despite having ample experience and quality depth, will work in fits and spurts -- and occasionally be its own worst enemy. Expect an uneven performance, but one that is good enough to get the job done.

Final Score:
West Virginia 27
Missouri 14

BartimusPrime

Maybe I have very little confidence in Missouri's offense, but I think our D will have a decent day. Howard struggles early to get in sync with his receivers, but ultimately throws two TDs in the fourth to win.

Final Score:
West Virginia 31
Missouri 17

SmithFire13

I watched the Mizzou/UConn game last year and it was the most miserable part of the 2015 college football season for me. Mizzou's defense is the real deal, but their offense is horrendous. Might be close early, but the Mountaineers break it open in the third.

Final Score:
West Virginia 34
Missouri 17

Michael Miller

It’ll be a tale of two halves. Missouri opens up a decent sized lead early in the first half before defensive coordinator Tony Gibson makes adjustments and rights the ship. Justin Crawford bursts onto the scene, making sure everyone knows his name, and Skyler Howard evolves from Good Skyler to Great Skyler as the Mountaineer offense dominates in the second half.

Final Score:
West Virginia 24
Missouri 17

sbwvu1

Football returns to Morgantown with a bang as Rushel Shell and the offensive line open up the passing game, and the Mountaineer offense picks up where it left off against Arizona State punishing Missouri's heralded defense. Missouri's offense remains anemic despite the new offensive coordinator, and fans serenade the field with chants of Big 12 as the final seconds tick off the clock.

Final Score:
West Virginia 42
Missouri 10

Will Hirsch

The Mountaineers will try the run game but it's the big throws from Howard that win them the season opener. Howard throws for 212 yards and the Mountaineer running backs combine for 107 rushing yards.

Final Score:
West Virginia 31
Missouri 21

JohnRadcliff

Bill Connolly gives Missouri a 33% chance of winning this game. He also admits he's been way off like everyone else in predicting Missouri's final record the last few years. Until proven otherwise, I think the Tiger defense is going to give us fits. But a home game against a first year coach has to be worth more than 3.

Final Score:
West Virginia 20
Missouri 10

statsboyandi

Missouri's defense slows the Mountaineer attack but West Virginia proves too much for them in the end.

Final Score:
West Virginia 27
Missouri 10

WVUIE97

They have a first year head coach, but a nasty defense keeps this close for 3 quarters. Good Skyler is back for good and his rapport with the receiving corps is evident. Justin Crawford breaks a long one for a TD. 3-3-5 bends but doesn’t break often.

Final Score:
West Virginia 31
Missouri 17

Robert Hurst

The Mountaineers establish the running game early, and explosive plays on the ground open up the home run over the top. The young defense capitalizes when Mizzou is forced to throw the ball in an effort to come from behind. Mounties roll and Holgy takes his first deep, red bull flavored, breath of the 2016 campaign.

Final Score:
West Virginia 31
Missouri 13

Dustin White

The offense is clicking, but the defense allows even a mediocre Missouri team to put up a bunch of points.

Final Score:
West Virginia 42
Missouri 35

Matt Kirchner

Mizzou's defense is stout, and this one will likely be close throughout the first half and social media will be a nightmare.

However, a strong ground game and some big throws by Skyler Howard will allow WVU to pull away late as the Tiger offense just can't keep up

Final Score:
West Virginia 34
Missouri 17

John Lowe

WVU overcomes early defensive woes. Big day for Skylar and the offense.

Final Score:
West Virginia 41
Missouri 27