CFN's Take: East Carolina vs. West Virginia

College Football News takes a look at Saturday's contest against West Virginia.

East Carolina (1-2) at West Virginia (3-0)  12:00 PM ESPN
Why to watch: Now that Louisville has suffered its first loss, West Virginia is left to carry the Big East banner in terms of a national championship run.  Sure, Rutgers and South Florida are ranked and unbeaten, but the Mountaineers are now the only team in the league with a realistic shot at making it to New Orleans if they can keep dominating like they have over the first few games.  In last Thursday’s win at Maryland, Rich Rodriguez learned a couple of important things about his program: True freshman RB Noel Devine has the jets to contribute to the offense right now.  And the defense, a question mark throughout the off-season, is showing signs of making progress, particularly on third down.  East Carolina is coming down from a damaging 28-21 loss to Southern Miss that already has it in a hole in the Eastern Division of Conference USA.  Still searching for that breakthrough win under Skip Holtz, this week’s trip to Morgantown presents an opportunity to make a bold statement while averting a 1-3 start with a tough trip to Houston in the on-deck circle.
Why East Carolina might win: If you’re going to have a prayer of upsetting West Virginia in Morgantown, you’d better be good at stopping the run, something the Pirates are excelling at this season.  Behind a sturdy defensive line, and despite opening without any cupcakes on the schedule, East Carolina leads Conference USA in rush defense, allowing just 86 yards a game.  While it won’t stop the West Virginia attack, it’ll slow it down enough to keep the game competitive and get the ball back over to Patrick Pinkney, ECU’s rapidly improving quarterback.
Why West Virginia might win: One way to keep the ball out of the hands of West Virginia’s myriad of offensive playmakers is to establish a time-consuming ground game, but that’s just not going to happen with East Carolina.  The Pirates are 96th nationally on the ground, averaging less than three yards a carry, and things aren’t going to get any easier against a Mountaineer front that’s really attacking the ball this month.  Short ECU drives mean more touches for Patrick White, Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, and Devine.
Who to watch: West Virginia’s Mortty Ivy and Marc Magro weren’t even guaranteed starting jobs when camp started in August, but the two outside linebackers have been instrumental in the recent success of the Mountaineer defense.  Through three games, the pair has combined for seven tackles for loss and six sacks, creating pocket pressure that hasn’t always been there from the defensive line.
What will happen: With so much attention being given to the Mountaineer running attack, this is one of those games that White will show off his underrated arm, flipping a couple of touchdown passes against a porous pass defense.  Unlike last year’s game, West Virginia will jump out early and never be challenged by East Carolina.

CFN Prediction
: West Virginia 44 ... East Carolina 16 ... Line: West Virginia -24
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation)


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