Records: UConn (6-2, 2-1 Big East) vs. West Virginia (5-2,2-0 Big East)
Place: Rentschler Field (40,000 seat), East Hartford, Conn.
Time: Noon. T.V.: Big East network.
What's at stake: The Huskies (6-2, 2-1) can take over first place in the Big East with a win and have tiebreaker advantages over Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia (5-2, 2-0) in the standings with a 3-1 record with three games left. A Huskies loss, and they are virtually eliminated from realistic Big East title contention and almost assuredly even in the event of a tie for the league title, would not get a BCS berth barring a West Virginia collapse in conference play.
Coaches quote: "That's the scary part about Pat White and Noel Devine. You got to be able to make plays and to tackle. You don't want to put yourself in position where you have to make 1-on-1 takcles. You have to have more than one guy trying to tackle. You need guys getting off blocks, making proper reads and taking proper angles. They have made a lot of people miss over the years." – UConn coach Randy Edsall on West Virginia's offensive talent at quarterback and running back.
UConn on offense
The Huskies quarterback situation remains a mystery, but whether it be Zach Frazer or Cody Endres the Huskies are going to have to throw a ball against a West Virginia defense that has been surprisingly stout against the run this season recently giving up 123 yards per game total. There is talk that cornerback Darius Butler will have an increased role against the Mountaineers at wide receiver, and UConn needs all the help they can get offensively. Running back Donald Brown has 1,324 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns and if the Huskies are going to win, he is going to have to come up with 150 more. Whoever is at quarterback for the Huskies, the key will be to not turn over the ball, make the simple pass, and convert manageable third downs. The Huskies can't get in a shootout and expect to win.
West Virginia on offense
The Mountaineers are still one of the most explosive offenses in the country led by quarterback Pat White, who is among the NCAA career leader in rushing for a quarterback, and super-sophomore Noel Devine (827 yards rushing, 7.2 per carry). The Mountaineers began the season trying to throw the ball with White, but last week returned to the running spread option offense that piled up huge numbers a year ago in a 66-21 West Virginia rout. White is a touchdown threat on every snap, and Devine is as explosive a back as there is in the country and he piled up 207 yards against Auburn last week. Sophomore Jock Sanders is a hybrid running back and wide receiver, and he also is dangerous with the ball in his hands. The Mountaineers aren't as explosive as a year ago, but with Pat White still there, they are still one of the most dangerous offensive teams in football.
The Huskies are going to need a yeoman's effort from all 11 players on defense. This isn't an Xs or Os contest, it's a simple question of tackling in space. White has built a legendary career on making people miss for big plays. The Huskies can't allow its defenders to be caught 1-on-1 with Sanders, Devine or White. The Huskies need to pursue the ball with discipline, and swarm to the ball. That will prevent the missed tackles and broken plays from piling up. Defensive end Cody Brown needs to be a force on the line stopping White and Devine in the backfield. Linebackers Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson have to get the ball carry to the ground. This is a game that will be won or lost on the defensive line extended. If the Mountaineers can get to the second level of the defense at full speed, UConn will have difficult stopping them. The Huskies have been great against the run this season, allowing only 110 yards a game, but this is a different caliber offense than they have faced.
West Virginia on defense
The Mountaineers are averaging a Big East best 15.0 points against and have been good against the run in their 3-3-5 defense. The leading tackler is Mortty Ivy with 51 while backup John Holmes has three sacks for the Mountaineers. West Virginia has tremendous team speed, and with five defensive backs, it is even more exasperated. West Virginia is a ball-hawking team and can really cause UConn problems with its team speed on defense.
Inside the numbers
**WVU is 38-7 over its last 45 games and is 19-4 in Big East play.
**UConn has never defeated West Virginia in four tries and has never come within single digits in the game. The average margin of victory is 45-16.
**West Virginia is 46-2 since 2002 when it wins the turnover battle.
**UConn running back Donald Brown has 1,324 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. His 165 yards per game leads the NCAA. Brown's 1,324 yards is a school single season record and he is also 146 yards away from breaking the school's all-time mark in rushing set by Terry Caulley at 3,187. Brown has 100 yards rushing in all eight games this season.
**West Virginia's defense has allowed only 8 100 yard rushers in its last 45 games.
**The Huskies have won 11 straight games at Rentschler Field dating back to the 2006 season.
** White has 3,924 rushing yards, second all-time for a quarterback in NCAA history.
Inside the Numbers - WV vs UConn
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