Big East Showdown Draws Near

Rutgers (5-2,2-1) was able to get practice in before a heavy rain descended upon Rutgers Stadium. In the gloomy weather, Coach Schiano continued to prep for No. 7 West Virginia (6-1, 1-1). RU currently controls its own destiny in the Big East and should RU run the table, they will represent the conference in the BCS. In order to do that, RU will have to beat its 2nd ranked opponent in two weeks.

The Mountaineers are among the best in the nation at producing plays of twenty yards or more. Coach Schiano realizes that stopping the big plays will be one of the keys to the game.

"That is one of the biggest determining factors in winning and losing football games, that and takeaways," Coach Schiano said.

Rutgers has not been doing a good job in the turnover margin department. The Scarlet Knights rank seventh in the Big East with three more giveaways than takeaways. Meanwhile, West Virginia on average produces a whole turnover more than they give up. Coach Schiano's defense can help try to limit big plays by their ability to force negative plays by the offense. The Scarlet Knights are tops in the Big East in sacks and have demonstrated the ability to get to the opposing QB. Rutgers is led by defensive end Jamaal Westerman who has recorded six sacks on the season. All told, RU ranks 29th in the nation in tackles for a loss with 49.

It will be tough to stop West Virginia behind the line because of the level of talent of its skill players. Running backs Steve Slaton and Noel Devine provide the Mountaineers with a lethal one-two punch that allows both to stay fresh.

Slaton is the much more well known of the two - today - but Devine is averaging 9.9 yards per carry.

"We have to play everybody as if they are the starter," RU linebacker Brandon Renkart said. "Because whoever is in there is obviously the starter. Especially with Noel Devine, there certainly is no let off."

The Scarlet Knights have a Heisman contending running back themselves in Ray Rice. Currently, Rice is fourth in the nation in yards per game.

"It is always good to know there is a great back on the other side," Rice said. "I don't feel I need to go blow for blow. He is a great back and I am a great back. We both have pretty good teams and we can't do it on our own."

Rutgers' defense will have to be prepared to run a lot on Saturday to keep up with the team speed of West Virginia. Coach Schiano understands that he must come up with multiple ways to try and stop WVU quarterback Pat White, along with Slaton and Devine. While RU may be prepared for the speed and explosiveness of Slaton, having faced him before, the Scarlet Knights have not been up against the sort of athleticism that Pat White brings to the table.

"You can spy some," Coach Schiano said. "Believe me, you have to be able to give multiple looks to this offense and then there are no guarantees. But I guarantee you one thing, if you sit in one thing all day you are dead, not that multiple is the answer."

"They haven't been stopped yet. They have only stopped themselves. The only game they have lost they turned the ball over six times. They don't turn it, over nobody stops them." Indeed, as Georgia learned a couple of years ago in the Sugar Bowl, coming in unprepared for the Mountaineer offense may lead to disastrous consequences. WVU came in as a strong underdog in that game, but ran the heavily favored Bulldogs off the field with what seemed to be a surprising array of explosiveness. It's the sort of explosiveness that the Big East conference needs to prepare for on a weekly basis.

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