WVU Takes Next Crack At No. 1 UM

The West Virginia could very well be faced with climbing Mount Everest. The Mountaineers, losers of three consecutive games, are the Orange Bowl's next visitors as they take on the No. 1 ranked University of Miami, Thursday, Oct. 25 (ESPN 2).

West Virginia, coming of a 34-24 road defeat to Notre Dame, is 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the Big East, good for a sixth place tie in the conference. The Moutaineers have been outscored 69-10 in conference losses to Boston College and Virginia Tech.

"We're going to spend a lot of time this week working on the West Virginia Mountaineers," said West Virginia first-year coach Rich Rodriguez. "I can't even begin to worry about Miami if we don't make ourselves a better football team."

Good luck, coach.

Despite being outgained in several statistical categories and being flagged 15 times, the Hurricanes (5-0) are fresh off a convincing 49-27 victory over state-rival Florida State.

The Hurricanes, who defeated their first four opponents by a combined score of 175-35, were faced with plenty of questions entering Tallahassee. Some of those questions centered on the record (3-14) of Miami's opposition before facing the Seminoles.

Miami answered with an exclamation point.

Although they struggled at times the Hurricanes came through with game-breaking plays on both sides of the ball and showed they could perform under pressure.

Miami's defense forced six FSU turnovers, quarterback Ken Dorsey (14-of-27, 249 yards, 3 TD passes) was efficient. With the victory, the Hurricanes snapped a 10-year home winning-streak for the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium.

University of Miami head coach Larry Coker was 'elated' to have come out of Doak Stadium with a victory and the Hurricanes national championship aspirations intact.

Although, Coker wasn't pleased with the Hurricanes inability to run the ball in the first half, the number of penalties committed and the poor tackling on the part of the Hurricanes. Coker said the Hurricanes would work on improving those things from now until their next game.

"We have a lot of work to do," Coker said. "I'm not even concerned with West Virginia at this point. We have to worry about Miami vs. Miami."

The Hurricanes, who resumed practice on Tuesday in preparation for West Virginia, have had their way with the Mountaineers. UM owns a 13-3 all-time mark against WVU, which includes winning eight of the last 10 meetings between both teams. Miami has outscored the Mountaineers 205-131 since 1993.

Last season at Mountaineer Field, then No. 12 Miami hammered West Virginia 47-10. The Hurricanes defense accounted for three touchdowns, including a 77-yard fumble return by defensive back Phillip Buchanon. Dorsey completed 22-of-33 passes for a then-career-high of 291 passing yards. In the game, Dorsey ran his streak of 102 consecutive passes thrown without being intercepted.

Stopping Dorsey or fending off the UM defense will certainly be on the top of priorities facing the Mountaineers. But the Mountaineers have their own concerns to worry about before next Thursday-especially stopping the run.

Notre Dame's 345 yards rushing yards last week are the most permitted by a West Virginia defense since Navy rolled up 388 yards on the ground Oct. 2, 1999. Last season, the most given up by the WVU defensive unit was 275 yards against Pitt.

The Mountaineers defense have given up an average o 245.8 yards per game on the ground through six games. West Virginia is on a pace to give up over 200 yards per game on the ground for the first time in 20 seasons. In 1978, the Mountaineers gave up over 250 yards a game rushing.

The Mountaineers, led on offense by senior quarterback Brad Lewis, have struggled to pick up Rodriguez's fast-paced offensive scheme. It wasn't until last week that West Virginia scored a season-high in points with 24. WVU has scored just 108 points in six games.

Lewis was 9-of-23 for 91 yards and two touchdown passes against a suspect Fighting Irish defensive unit. Running back Avon Cobourne picked up the slack with 169 yards rushing on 26 carries.

West Virginia will rely on Cobourne and speed at the wide-out position in hopes of controlling the clock and keeping the Canes offense off the field.

But Rodriguez knows it will take much more to score the upset over Miami.

"Everything has to go right for us and we need to get a lot breaks," Rodriguez said.

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