Who Has the Edge in the RU-WVU?

Are you wondering where the advantage for each team lies in the Rutgers-West Virginia matchup this week? SOR has you covered. We take a look at everything from offense, defense and special teams to coaching and intangibles as we let you know Who Has the Edge.

Who Has the Edge in the Rutgers-West Virginia game?

RUTGERS' OFFENSE VS. WEST VIRGINIA'S DEFENSE

Neither team has been great this year when it comes to RU's offense and WVU's defense. The Scarlet Knights (1-3) came alive in a 38-0 rout of Morgan State last week, and West Virginia (2-2) dominated Marshall in a 27-3 victory. Before that, it was tough sledding for each team.

Rutgers still ranks in the bottom half of college football in most offensive categories, though the Knights have been able to move the ball early in games this year. The inability to score inside the red zone (nine touchdowns in 16 tries) has been deadly for the Scarlet Knights, and fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Teel isn't helping matters with seven interceptions to just two touchdown strikes (RU quarterbacks have thrown nine total interceptions to two TDs). The running game has been hit or miss, though redshirt freshman tailback Jourdan Brooks has emerged as RU's No. 1 option.

West Virginia is holding teams to just 16.3 points per game, and the Mountaineers limited Marshall to a measly 39 yards on the ground last week. However, East Carolina and Colorado gashed WVU's defense for a combined 752 yards in consecutive weeks. The key to the defense is the play of linebacker Reed Williams, who has been banged up this year with shoulder injuries and is questionable for this contest.

Edge: Draw


WEST VIRGINIA'S OFFENSE VS. RUTGERS' DEFENSE

WVU is led by Pat White, who entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. He has an injured thumb on his throwing hand, but he's still a top notch quarterback whether he is running or passing. WVU seems to have its running game in gear, racking up 335 yards on the ground versus Marshall last week. Noel Devine is a deadly runner who averages 6.5 yards per carry. He is followed closely by White in rushing yardage, but the Mountaineers don't have a short yardage back like former fullback Owen Schmitt to pick up the tough yards and punish the opposition.

WVU's strength (the rushing attack) plays right into RU's weakness, as the Scarlet Knights are ranked 81st nationally out of 119 teams in run defense (166.8 yards against per game). RU was the last team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) to force the other team into turnovers. Currently, the Knights are tied for 113th in turnover margin and are last in the Big East in that category.

Edge: West Virginia


SPECIAL TEAMS

WVU has one of the best place-kickers in the nation, and this year Pat McAfee is also one of the best punters in college football as he averages 45.8 yards per punt. He has also hit on 67 consecutive extra points and is 5-for-6 on field goal attempts this season. However, his one miss was a chip shot that cost West Virginia a chance at overtime against Colorado on Sept. 18.

RU has blocked punts in two consecutive games and is playing much better in the return game this year compared to last season. Ted Dellaganna is emerging as a solid punter, and placekicker San San Te seems to have settled down after an 0-for-2 start on field goal attempts this year. Still, those two players are redshirt freshmen without any big game experience.

Edge: West Virginia


COACHING

The Scarlet Knights are off to a rough start this year, and that starts at the top. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano seems like he is as puzzled as the rest of us when discussing RU's performance this year, but he insists that the Scarlet Knights can turn the season around. He was national coach of the year in 2006, and this is the first time since the 2004 season that Rutgers has faced such adversity.

Bill Stewart is in his first year as a head coach. After winning his debut in the Fiesta Bowl last year, he has encountered some difficulty getting the most out of West Virginia this year. Normally, you'd have to give the advantage to the coach with almost a decade at the helm of a Big East squad, but Stewart has been around the block a few times as an assistant, and he has one more Bowl Championship Series postseason victory than Schiano.

Edge: Draw


INTANGIBLES

Neither team seems to be playing with any passion this year. West Virginia entered the year with a top 10 ranking, but consecutive losses dropped the Mountaineers from the rankings for the first time in nearly 50 weeks. WVU looked uninspired while getting drubbed 24-3 at East Carolina and followed that with a 17-14 loss at Colorado where it looked like the Mountaineers could not put all the pieces together.

RU is similarly underperforming on the field, with its frustration culminating in Teel taking a swipe at defensive back Glen Lee following a 23-21 loss to Navy Sept. 20. The Scarlet Knights are struggling to find an identity, and two starters - offensive lineman Anthony Davis and wide receiver Kenny Britt - were suspended for the Morgan State game last week.

Edge: Draw


HEAD TO HEAD

West Virginia has owned Rutgers on the football field. The Mountaineers are 15-0 against Rutgers in Morgantown and 29-4-2 overall, including a current 13-game winning streak. The best chance for Rutgers to beat WVU at Milan Puskar Stadium was two years ago, but the Mountaineers notched a 41-39 triple-overtime decision.

Edge: West Virginia


RECENT HISTORY

Rutgers has been to three straight bowl games, and most of the current players have known nothing but success while on the Banks. Schiano turned around a perennial doormat and gave RU the expectation to win each season.

West Virginia has been the Big East BCS representative two of the last three seasons and has won at least a share of the conference title every year but once in the last five seasons.

Edge: West Virginia


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