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UCONN playing for Fallen Teammate
7 Point Underdogs to West Virginia
The UCONN Huskies will be playing with heavy hearts this Saturday. Just hours after making a huge play in the win over Louisville, and being awarded the game ball, Jasper Howard, aka "Jazz" was stabbed and killed in a fight on campus. Players from both UCONN and WVA will wear Howards number on their helmets and their will be a moment of silence before the game. West Virginia opened as a 7 point favorite at sportsbook.com and has been bet up to -7.5. The total is 47.5.
West Virginia is in their 2nd year without Coach Rich Rodriguez, and their
1st year without star QB Pat White and West Virginia just keeps on winning. West
Virginia is in a dog fight for another Big East title, and if it wasn’t for
turning the ball over 6 times against Auburn they would be undefeated.
They have some important Big East games against Cincinnati, South Florida, and Pittsburgh left on the schedule, so a win this weekend is a must if they are going to win another Big East title, but this Connecticut team is very dangerous. They lost a heartbreaker to Pittsburgh 24-21, but got things back on track the next weekend with a 38-25 victory over Louisville. They are looking to continue to keep things on track, and a victory over West Virginia would be just the thing to keep their Big East title hopes alive.
This West Virginia offense is not the same run first run second and run third offense that they were under Rich Rodriguez and with QB Pat White. This West Virginia offense runs a very balanced offense. They are ranked #2 in the Big East in both rushing and passing offenses. They average 242 yards through the air, and 185 yards on the ground. QB Jarrett Brown has done a great job of taking over for QB Pat White who left for the NFL, but Brown was injured in a helmet to helmet collision against Marshall and he is questionable for this game.
If Brown is unable to play it will be up to Freshman QB Geno Smith to lead this Mountaineer offense. Smith did a good job filling in for Brown against Marshall going 15/21 for 147 yards and 1 TD, but this is a UCONN defense that ranked #3 in the Big East in total defense, and ranked #4 in the Big East in scoring defense, so he will have to be at his best if he is asked to play.
Even if its Brown or Smith under center the speedster Noel Devine is going to play a huge role in the outcome of this game, and he will be even more important if its Smith under center. West Virginia might be more of a passing team this year then in years past, but they still are going to establish the run with Devine. Devine is averaging 122 yards per game this year on an average of 19 carries per game and already has 9 TD’s. If UCONN can stack the box and stop the run with RB Noel Devine, and force either QB Jarrett Brown or QB Geno Smith to beat them with his arm they will have a chance to pull out the victory, but if West Virginia can establish the run, and help Brown or Smith with the play action pass down the field this West Virginia team can put up points in a hurry, and that will be bad news for this Connecticut football team.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Whoever is under center this Saturday will play a big role in the outcome of this game. QB Jarrett Brown has been very effective passing the ball this year especially with utilizing the play action pass. If he is able to play we are not sure if this UCONN defense is capable of stopping this Mountaineer offense with Jarrett Brown and RB Noel Devine, but QB Geno Smith is a Freshman who has only played in 3 games in his career, so if he is asked to start this game this UCONN defense will have a chance to slow this offense down.
If Smith starts expect the Huskie defense to do whatever it takes to stop the rushing attack with Noel Devine, and force Smith to beat them with his arm. But in the end, no matter who is under center, this Mountaineer offense just has too much fire power with RB Noel Devine and WR Jock Sanders, and we expect West Virginia to continue its path to contending for a Big East title.
We have seen games go either way with circumstances similar to the one surrounding this game, the death of a teammate. We've seen teams rally together and give the performances of their lives, and we have also seen teams simply not show up, with the events of the week being too much to handle. Too hard to predict which way it will play out. Being in Connecticut, we can tell you the team has been under the spotlight all week. They have been sayi9ng all the right things and have dedicated the game Jasper. There's no doubt their intentions are to go out there and play the game of their lives.
But again, we have played games in the past based on similar intentions and
have probably fared about 50/50. So be careful with such an emotional game.
Strictly from a statistical handicapping standpoint, our numbers tell us that
CONN is as good as West Virginia making the +7.5 very tempting in a game they
could win straight up. So we'll make a small play on CONN here but we'll tread
lightly due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this game.
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