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# 25 WEST VIRGINIA AT COLORADO
Colorado +3 over West Virginia - Sportsbetting 101. Just because a game is on television, and happens to be the only game being played on a given day, does not mean you HAVE to bet the game. Of course if you feel you have found an edge in the game, then by all means, fire away. But this handicapper is here to tell you that in this particular case, for me anyways, this game Thursday Night on ESPN between West Virginia and Colorado is best left alone.
Let's start with West Virginia. All too often, a team lives on it's past reputation. Such is the case with West Virginia so far this year as the betting patterns suggest that they are the popular choice in this game, as of this writing on Tuesday afternoon. But what do we really know about this years edition of the Mountaineers? Well, we know they have some new faces on defense and we also know that their offense returns a healthy 8 starters including QB Pat White. So logic would suggest this prolific offense would pick right up where it left off last year by scoring 40 points per game and being impossible to stop Right? Wrong. For whatever reason, Coach Bill Stewart has not taken the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach. Instead, he's decided to tinker with the spread offense he inherited from Rich Rodriguez by putting his own stamp on it. That stamp, so far, has come in the form of throwing the ball much more than they have in the past.
The results so far? Well, East Carolina dominated them. Not just on the scoreboard. They had a 20-12 first down edge. A total yards edge of 386-251 and a time of possession edge of 35-24. While West Virginia blew out Villanova in week one we saw similar results in time of possession, total yards and first downs all in favor of Villanova.
One would think, why upset the apple cart by trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead you have an offense that came up under Rodriguez and your forcing them to learn new schemes and responsibilities and you have guys used to contributing on the ground now being used more to block than to run. Makes no sense to me. If Stewart sticks to his guns we could see the same types of problems Rodriguez is having with Michigan trying to implement the spread over there. This change not as drastic for WVA but still, why mess with something that worked so well?
Whether or not Colorado can capitalize on this remains to be seen. They may have their own problems. They had to come from behind to beat Eastern Washington last time out and here's a quote from an EWASH player - "I don't like to talk bad about teams, but they aren't going to get far in the Big 12," predicted Eastern Washington defensive back Ryan Kelley. "They aren't playing like a Big 12 team. They're playing like a Big Sky team."
Now you can't fault the Buffs if they were looking ahead to West Virginia. It's a classic look ahead scenario. Ewash one week and number 25 in the Nation West Virginia after that. Although the fact that Colorado had a bye week kind of takes away a bit from that angle. Nonetheless, if I had to do a lean one way or the other here, I'd side with Colorado.
The Buffs have the motivation of playing a top 25 team, at home before a National ESPN TV audience. They have added incentive as a result of the Ewash players comments. They catch the Mountaineers tinkering with an offense that didn't need tinkering and they perhaps have the talent to get it done if we can use last year as any sort of barometer.
They return 14 starters from a year ago and went from 2-10 in 2006 to 6-7 last year under Dan Hawkings. Of those 6 wins, a few stand out. They upset #3 Oklahoma 27-24. Lost by 5 to #15 Kansas and beat Texas Tech 31-26. They showed they could put points on the board, and in a couple of games even showed some defense, though a 55-10 loss to Mizu and giving up on average 30 points per game would seem to suggest otherwise.
Rebuilding a program is all about stepping stones. With any program that has successfully rebuilt, you can point to stepping stones along the way that helped them get there. Measuring sticks if you will. If Colorado becomes a force again in due time, we'll look back to the Oklahoma win and the games mentioned above as the initial stepping stones. No better stepping stone to add to that list than to knock off a team that was one game away from the National Title game a year ago and is currently ranked #25. Colorado +3
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