Two of the nation's most successful teams in the last five years, both come into the game looking to recapture the magic of recent seasons. While Auburn is hoping to get a spark from sophomore quarterback Kodi Burns to get the offense untracked, the Mountaineers have that position under control in the very capable hands of senior Patrick White.
A native of Daphne, White is on track to be the career leader for rushing yardage by a quarterback in NCAA history and has been instrumental in WVU being 38-7 in its last 45 games. Still things this season haven't been rosy as new coach Bill Stewart's first season has been and up and down affair.
That has especially been true on offense where the Mountaineers haven't been able to be consistent, averaging just 17 points per game after scoring 48 in the opener against Villanova. Still White has managed to rush for 428 yards and two scores while throwing for 590 yards and nine touchdowns. White says he doesn't see anything that concerns him other than the team is just not hitting on all cylinders at the moment.
"Sometimes it hasn't been but then again sometimes I has been very exciting," White says. "We've been killing ourselves with a lot of mistakes and sometimes not executing. The plays are there. The players are there. The coaches are there. We've just got to put it all together and we'll be okay."
Pat White is the nation's most dangerous dual-threat quarterback.
Part of the reason for West Virginia's struggles has been because of injuries to White. Bothered by a thumb injury to one of his hands (and White's not saying which one) as well as by a recent concussion, White says he's feeling better and should be ready to go against the Tigers.
"They're both fine," White says. "I've had a few weeks to just rest up and let my mind clear up. I have been doing a lot of treatment on my thumb. They're both going to be okay."
For Auburn on defense the task is a difficult one. In addition to his exploits as a runner, White has also become a very capable passer. Throw in the play of speedy sophomore running back Noel Devine (642 yards, two touchdowns) and you have an explosive offense. While White gets all the pub he says Devine is the guy he loves to watch play the game.
"He's one of the greatest athletes I have seen touch the field," White says. "His numbers might not be showing it right now but if you put the ball in his hands he's going to make a play. He does stuff that amazes me every day. We're definitely thankful to have him."
Growing up in the Mobile area, White had a chance to play against Auburn junior defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks while he was at Vigor and is familiar with players such as Antonio Coleman and Gabe McKenzie. He says because of that he's looking forward to playing against Auburn on Thursday.
"It's definitely a great opportunity," White says. "I'm excited that before I graduate I get a game with a bunch of guys that grew up playing in the same state I did. It's exciting.
"I know they grew up playing football in the same area I did," he adds. "It's full of talent and I know they have a lot of it. They're going to give us everything they've got and hopefully we can do the same."
Facing an Auburn defense that is coming off it's worst performance of the season in a loss to Arkansas, White isn't expecting to see that same Tiger team come Thursday. He says several areas of the defense have impressed him while watching film and he knows the Mountaineers will need to be ready, and he expects they will be.
"They definitely have confidence in their secondary," White says. "They also have a great defensive line. They are very athletic and very physical. We're going to have to do a great job of blocking up front if we want to be successful in the game. I know we will."