College Football Preview: West Virginia vs. Marshall

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We end our Big 12 Football Q & A sessions today with a gambling related question. Joining us today will be Jay Beck of the Big 12 football blog Turfburner. Amanda Staver of RideSchooner, Ride. Allen Kenney of Blatant Homerism, an aptly named Sooner blog (just kidding). We also have Flint Harris of Holy Turf and the guys from the West Virginia blog, EER Insider.

Question # 6: West Virginia is currently a 21.5 point home favorite over Marshall in their 2012 opener, September 1st. Who would you bet on and why?

Jay Beck – Oh my, I’d take West Virginia going away because of the points they’re capable of putting up on offense.  Granted, in last season’s season opener against Marshall, West Virginia won 34-13 which wouldn’t have covered this year’s spread, but this will be an even better Mountaineer team in 2012.  It will be the offenses second season under Dana Holgorsen and second for quarterback Geno Smith running it who figures to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country in 2012.

Even though bowl games can be a bit misleading at times, remember what West Virginia did to Clemson in the Orange Bowl?  That was a completely different team than the one Marshall saw at the beginning of the season and will likely look more like the team Marshall will see on September 1st.

On the flip side, if there’s any apprehension in taking West Virginia, it stems from the fact their defense may be a bit of an unknown entering the season.  Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel left for Arizona and the defense is now in the hands of co-coordinators Jeff Casteel and Keith Patterson.

But even if Marshall puts up 28, it’s not hard to envision W. Virginia still doubling them up.

Amanda Staver – Ride Schooner, Ride: WVU being a 21.5 home favorite over Marshall in their home-opener is an easy bet. West Virginia ended 2011 with a 10-3 record and a trip to the Orange Bowl, stomping Clemson. Marshall played out at 7-6 and 0-3 against the Top-25 teams they played. They did beat FIU in the Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl 20-10. They lost the match-up 34-13 in 2011 against WVU and don’t see them producing a win this time. WVU is coming back with most of their starters and are overall just a better program. I’d take the bet with the ‘Eers on top.

Allen Kenney – Blatant Homerism: I don’t have the time to really study this one, but I hesitate to back big favorites in these early season games, especially in what some would consider a rivalry game. If I had pick a side, I’d be on Marshall here. It helps the Thundering Herd’s cause that the Mountaineers will be installing new defensive schemes following the departure of underrated coordinator Jeff Casteel to Arizona.

Flint Harris – Holy Turf: If I knew who to bet on, I would be holed up in a Vegas making cash! That being said, I am high on West Virginia, so I would lay the points.

EER Insider: While both schools are located in the same state, they’ve only played 11 times. After a lenghty separation, the schools decided to reunite in 2006. All-time, West Virginia is 11-0 against the Herd. Take away 2010′s 24-21 WVU win, the Mounatineers have won by an average of 35-11 ….a difference of 24 points.

I look for that to continue in 2012. West Virginia appears to be talented all across the field, and the game will be played in Morgantown. In a betting scenario – giving that many points is always scary. But I think it’s a safe bet here.

The Saturday Edge: The final last year was 34-13, but as I recall they called the game because of lightening with nearly the entire 4th quarter remaining. I am not a big fan of laying 21.5 points, especially early in the season, but if I were to wager this game I would take West Virginia minus the points.

Marshall had difficulty stopping West Virginia last year with a veteran defense led by NFL 2nd round selection Vinny Curry at defensive end. Now they’ll be taking a far less experienced defense into Morgantown to face an who put up 70 points in the last game they played. This one has the potential to get ugly.

That is it for our Big 12 football Q & A sessions. I would like to thank Jay, Amanda, Allen, Flint and EER Insider for their participation. Next week we will be starting our ACC Conference Conversations. Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comment section below. Thank you – GS.

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