WEST VIRGINIA AT
+4 over West Virginia - (get
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Last season these two teams were Big East Co-Champs. On paper
at least. But the real Champions, were the West Virginia
Mountaineers. They played last November 24th and West Virginia
pounded Uconn to the tune of 66-21 while gaining over 500 yards in
the process. But let's not forget that this was a special WVA team a
year ago. They were one game away from the National title game.
Sure, they hammered Uconn, but guess what? They also hammered #3
Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Uconn was a good, solid, scrappy football team last year. This
year, with 9 back on offense and 8 on defense, pretty much the same
team, Uconn is a good, solid, scrappy football team. They enjoy a
huge home field edge, which we talked about last week, and they are
one of the best coached teams in the Nation. If Randy Edsall doesn't
end up with a big time coaching job, it will be a crime. The Huskies
results are a direct reflection on Edsall. He makes the most of the
talent he has. Comes up with sound game plans that puts his teams in
a position to win games in the 4th quarter.
Uconn was criticized all of last year and continues to get
criticized this year. They get the "breaks". They play a "soft
schedule". That's all nonsense. Fact is, they continue to win
football games. They are 6-2 this year and really, could be
undefeated. They had a chance to win the Rutgers game but missed a
last second field goal and the loss to North Carolina was deceiving.
The score was 38-12 but the Tar Heels blocked 3 punts, one for a
touchdown and the others setting up great field position. North
Carolina scored 21 points off of Husky mistakes, which is a rarity.
Take away that 21 points and you're looking at a 17-12 game. As it
was, Uconn won the stat battle in that game. 23 first downs to NC's
13. Uconn had twice as many passing yards as well as more yards on
the ground and they won the time of possession battle holding onto
the ball for 36 minutes to North Carolina's 23. So Uconn is one bad
game with some mistakes, and a missed field goal away from being
undefeated. Likewise, take that 21 points NC scored off the mistakes
away and you have a Uconn team that's competitive every time they
take the field.
In case no one has noticed, West Virginia is down a notch. Let's
forget about the Auburn game for a minute. After opening the year
with a win over Villanova, WVA went on the road for two games in a
row and lost them both. East Carolina beat them 24-3 and then
Colorado knocked them off in overtime. Then they returned home,
where they have been ever since. 4 straight games, all wins, all at
home. But folks, look at who those wins came against. They beat
Marshall. Then it was 24-17 over Rutgers. Then they beat Syracuse
17-6 after being up just 7-6 at the half. Syracuse!! Granted they
played without Pat White in that Syracuse game, but last we checked,
White didn't play defense. Syracuse had over 200 yards thru the air,
they had 20 first downs to WVA's 13 and they controlled the ball for
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Against Auburn, WVA trailed 17-3 off of two Pat White
interceptions. To their credit, they were able to battle back and
stick it to a pretty good Auburn defense in the 2nd half, showing
flashes of a year ago. But it's still just one half of football. If
you line up these two teams results side by side this year, quarter
by quarter, you'd have to give Uconn the nod for having played more
solid quarters of football. This is a WVA team that was scoring 40,
50 and 60 points in games a year ago yet aside from the Villanova
game hadn't topped 27 all year until the 2nd half of last weeks
Uconn plays the type of football that keeps games close. West
Virginia lost the time of possession battle in every game but 2 this
year. Uconn is 7th in the Nation in time of possession. Uconn has
the Nations leading rusher in Donald Brown and the team is 17th
overall in rushing offense. West Virginia gives up some yards
through the air as well which would seem to play right into the
hands of the Uconn dink and dunk passing attack. Uconn doesn't need
the long ball. Donald Brown left, Donald Brown right, screens out of
the backfield, hit the tight ends........that's Uconn football. The
defense isn't to shabby either. Aside from Auburn, Uconn is as good
or better than every team West Virginia has faced this year.
Uconn gets the home field advantage. Perhaps a little weather
working in their favor with a chance of rain. They have the added
motivation of revenge for last years humiliation. They also have the
chance to beat WVA for the first time, which is something these
juniors and seniors, and coach Edsall would love to do. Very similar
to the Cincinnati win a week ago, a team Uconn had never beaten.
Speaking of the revenge angle, Edsall and his staff downplayed
that angle early in the week. But as it turns out, and as if we
didn't already know, it actually is a pretty big deal. Here is a
paragraph from a Hartford Courant article with a quote or two :
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart was
right. That 66-21 pasting administered by the Mountaineers last
season sure is posted in the Huskies' building.
It's in the locker room and their training room at the Burton
Complex. And, said UConn senior defensive end Cody Brown, there is a
picture of West Virginia's offensive line pinned in every defensive
Not that anybody needed a reminder — or motivation — for this one,
but the coaches want as much emphasis as possible.
Gotta love it. That's what college football is all about.
This game should be close all the way. No reason for it not to be
based on the results of both of these teams thus far. West Virginia
is not pounding teams into submission as they were a year ago. They
are winless on the road and when they have won, other than the 2nd
half last week at Auburn, they are barely getting by bad teams.
Uconn on the other hand is 3 blocked punts and a missed field goal
away from 8-0. Doesn't matter who the QB is this week for the
Huskies. They just need someone to drive the car. Uconn has won 11
straight at home, 29-7 straight up there since 2003 and 12-5 against
the spread in the 17 games in which they have been a dog in that
time frame. We'll take the +4 in a very winnable game for Uconn.
3* Uconn +4