Prediction: West Virginia Flies To Baton Rouge, Bags The Tigers
Okay. I'm the guy who predicted that West Virginia will go to the Marshall campus stadium in Huntington and leave with its musket between its legs. Yeah, that's me, the novelist—you remember, setting up the theater of the state's little brother putting on a whipping.
By a field goal, I so surely stated, because Doc Holliday will quickly and most assuredly have The Thundering Herd back in Bobby Pruett shape. Bobby Pruett, the cunning fox of an ex-Marshall coach who in the late 1990s cajoled the Mountain State to the point of madness with his "WVU, let's play ball!" campaign.
Bobby Pruett won games he was supposed to win, and won games he was not supposed to win. Hence, WVU avoided him like a skunk.
That last statement is essential to understanding why LSU is going down. The Bengal Tigers' head coach Les Miles is not a Bobby Pruett. Les loses too many of the games he should have won, too many, that is, to satisfy the Baton Rouge crowd for any extended period of time.
Too many, such as, to a team like West Virginia.
On the evening of Saturday September 25, 2010, the Mountaineers will take their traveling squad and a couple of tanker trucks full of G2 to the very odd campus stadium at the Louisiana State University. While there, they will try to find the answer to the questions: a) No, really, I'm not joking, is West Virginia as fast as a Southeastern Conference team? b) Even when they're completely soaked in sweat?
Now, with regards to that stadium and other boondoggles, it's interesting to consider how much the politicians of West Virginia and Louisiana have in common, in a charismatic way, that is.
In the past 50 years, West Virginia has had two charismatic governors. W. Wallace Barron, a Democrat, was so captivated by the state that he spent some time in prison during the early 1970s for jury tampering. Not to be outdone by the Democrats, Arch A. Moore, Jr., a Republican who could lay out the charm, obstructed and extorted himself to a federal prison sentence in the early 1990s.
For the longest time, Louisiana was led by a charismatic governor by the name of Huey P. Long. Governor Long was, for example, the guy who got the funds to build a railroad bridge across the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish by attaching a highway to it on either side. Dangerous, not within the spirit of the law, but legal, and creative.
Pretty good. However, the bridge was not quite as good as getting the money to build dormitories on the LSU campus, a project for which he could easily get funding, and attach an addition onto LSU Tiger Stadium to make a 92,400 seat venue. Once again, not within the spirit of the law, but legal, and really creative.
Governor Long was so creative, so very creative, that in 1935 he simply yanked the wrong chain, that chain belonging to a Dr. Carl Weiss. The good doctor had assassination on his mind. At least West Virginia's felons lived long after their sentences.
Enough history. Moving on, West Virginia fans look to that date in late September with trepidation. Their ill-feelings stem from the fact that for the second time in two years, the Mountaineers must venture into enemy territory, i.e. the Southeastern Conference, and play a game of speed-ball.
These WVU fans are worried that their team cannot match up speed versus speed, horizontally and vertically.
Well, golly, how about this: a brief perusal through the LSU Bleacher Report site reveals that the Bengal Tiger fans look to be equally concerned about the Mountaineers.
Huh, how about that? How about it, in that the LSU faithful is reacting differently than the fervent from Auburn in 2009. After writing an article in 2009 in which I compared the Tigers from The Plains to East Carolina, I received over 4,000 reads in a day with over 50 comments from Auburn fans, most of whom were not pleasant.
Talk about confidence.
Let's talk about confidence. Fans of either team don't have it. Kevin McGrady, a B/R featured columnist covering LSU, looks at West Virginia as a "trap game," meaning WVU could pull off an ambush in Baton Rouge.
How about that? A team from the The East going into the talent-laden Deep South and LSU may not expect it?
How about the position Larry Burton takes. A b/r featured columnist and senior analyst, calls West Virginia and LSU a "toss up."
It could be the Big Set-up, could be. I think Louisiana State is way too good of a football team to roll over.
Hold on a second. As I've read about Les Miles, the Tigers' head coach, he can be described as a man not on the hot seat, but definitely in the same room with it. That sounds good for West Virginia, but I think Les with his Southeastern Conference experience can eventually work his way out of that jam.
Once again, consider another coach near the hot seat. Who does that remind you of?
After last season's Gator Bowl, during which the Mountaineers were upset by an absolutely stoked Florida State team, Bill Stewart can stand in that room right beside Les and feel the radiant heat from the seat.
So, we have two coaches, desperate for a win, Les for any win, and Stew for the signature road win that has heretofore eluded him, the win that both Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez had by now.
Let's look at the early schedules. LSU goes to Atlanta for a Labor Day weekend celebration with an improving North Carolina. After playing Vanderbilt in Nashville, the Bengal Tigers finally come home and host Mississippi State. Then, it's West Virginia.
WVU hosts Coastal Carolina (how ridiculous!) over the holiday. Then, the Mountaineers hop on the bus to Marshall where my prediction of doom looms. The series with Maryland returns to the schedule during week three, after which it's time to hydrate to the point of saturation in preparation for LSU.
The Tar Heels will give LSU trouble. Some LSU B/R FCs are looking at a loss to UNC. In addition, the two SEC teams are probably division also-rans, but even the least among the SEC are lightning fast. That's Louisiana State's preparation for West Virginia speed.
On the other hand, WVU's fastest early opponent will be Marshall. Go ahead and comment as you wish. I'm calling it what it is. We just have to realize that West Virginia will not see the quality of teams LSU will play.
That's not good.
The advantage LSU has is they'll be in the rhythm, and of course they play in Huey Long's edifice. The only facet in West Virginia's favor is they are indeed quick and fast. That might be just enough.
Let's call it WVU and their talent by the slimmest of margins. Stew will get that big road win he so needs in a big way.
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