West Virginia vs South Florida
Friday Night Football ESPN 2
West Virginia hasnt missed a beat since former Coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan. Coach Bill Stewart has stepped in and done a great job. He has his Mountaineers contending for another Big East Title with a 6-1 record with their only loss coming against Auburn in a Game where they turned the ball over 6 times. They are 2-0 in conference, but they still have Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers on the Schedule, so they really need a win over South Florida this Friday to stay in contention for a Big East Title.
South Florida started their season with 5 straight wins, iNCluding a win over Florida State, but since that 5-0 start they have been struggling. They fell apart in the 2nd half against Cincinnati and dropped that Game 34-17. They followed that up with a 41-14 loss to Pittsburgh in a Game where they just couldnt get anything going.
This is a very talented South Florida team, but they really need to find their rhythm under Freshman QB B.J. Daniels. Their veteran QB Matt Grothe went down in the 3rd Game of the season with a season ending knee injury. Daniels has done a very good job of filling in, but his play has steadily declined ever since his great Game against Florida State. If South Florida is going to be able to get back into the hunt for the Big East Title Daniels has got to play to his potential, because this is a must win for South Florida.
This West Virginia football team has been playing very good football since their lone loss to Auburn, and one of the main reasons why is because RB Noel Devine has been having a great year. West Virginia is #1 in the Big East in Rush offense, and that all starts with Devine. In Devines 7 Games this year he has rushed for over 900 yards 10 TDs and is averaging 130 yards per Game. In West Virginias last Game against Connecticut Devine carried the ball 23 times for 178 yards iNCluding his Game winning 56 yard TD run late in the 4th quarter. Devine opens up everything for the offense and QB Jarrett Brown, so if the Mountaineers are able to establish the run early and make things easier on Brown this offense is able to put up points in a hurry, so South Florida has got to find a way to stop Devine early which is not going to be easy to do.
South Florida is ranked 7th in the Big East in rush defense allowing 132 yards a Game. In their last Game against Pittsburgh they GAve up 214 yards on the ground. Freshman RB Dion Lewis rushed 23 times for 111 yards and 2 TD, and RB Ray Graham added another 88 yards on 11 carries, and things dont get any easier with trying to stop Devine. South Florida has one of the best defensive lines in the country with DEs George Selvie and Jason Paul-Pierre who both will be playing on Sundays. They have got to win the battle in the treNChes against West Virginias offensive line and get pressure on the Mountaineer backfield. If they are able to do just that, and slow down Noel Devine it will force QB Jarrett Brown to have to beat this South Florida defense with his arm which is the matchup their defense is looking for.
THE FINAL VERDICT
This West Virginia offense has not changed much since Rich Rodriguez and QB Pat White left. They still like to run their spread and establish the run first. QB Jarrett Brown has done a great job of filling in for Pat White after he left for the NFL. He isnt quite the running threat White was, but he has done a great job getting it done through the air to complement their rushing attack with Noel Devine.
If that success continues this Game will be over quickly because of how fast this offense can put up points, but this South Florida defense is very athletic especially on the defensive line. If South Floridas line with DE Selvie and Paul-Pierre can get into the backfield consistently then they will have a great chance of slowing this offense down. If they can slow down Devine and force the Mountaineers to have to pass the ball more then they want to this South Florida defense will put QB Jarrett Brown into bad situations, and if they can get some early turnovers and get the home crowd into the Game early they are very capable of pulling out the win.
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