Revenge on The Mind

It's been hard to get last year's Connecticut game out of West Virginia's head this week. Honestly, it's all they can remember.

Seven fumbles. Four lost fumbles. One lost fumble on the 1-yard line in overtime. 13 points.

It was one of the worst nights in recent memory of the WVU football program. West Virginia dropped to last place in the Big East, and it is widely considered to be the turning point for Athletic Director Oliver Luck in his decision to make a change.

I'm sure I didn't need to recap the Mountaineers' 16-13 loss to the Huskies back on Oct. 29, 2010. It's probably fairly clear in your mind, as well.

Now, the Mountaineers will face the Huskies again.

And redemption is a hot topic in the Puskar Center.

"That game caused us to lose the Big East," said wide receiver Ivan McCartney. "We're really excited to get back out there and start Big East play this week because of that."

West Virginia is much more confident on the offensive side of the ball heading into this game, and rightfully so.

The Mountaineers are ranked as the 13th-best scoring offense (40.4 points per game) and 14th-best total offense (496 yards per game) in the nation heading into Saturday's game.

Last year, the Mountaineers were ranked 69th (26.14 ppg) and 70th (363.14 ypg) nationally in those two categories.

"I've seen tremendous improvement from our offense each week," said quarterback Geno Smith. "We understand what we need to do to be good, and we have been striving to do that. Our practices have been getting better each day, and we're going to continue to work to get better as a team."

The keys of the game, West Virginia players have learned from the past, focus strictly on turnovers.

While that statistic held true for many games the Mountaineers played last year last year, it has also been the case this season, as well.

In its two closest games, a 37-31 win at Maryland and a 47-21 loss vs. LSU, the Mountaineers turned the ball over a combined eight times – five of those coming against the Tigers.

"If you look back at last year's game, if we didn't turn the ball over we would've won the game," said inside receiver Tavon Austin. "We fumbled on the 1-yard line and that was the ball game. We definitely remember that, and that motivated them to get to the Fiesta Bowl."

Many fans consider WVU a heavy favorite against UConn, and the statistics would back up that statement.

However, the Huskies, just 2-3, have lost their three games by a combined total of 14 points including a three-point loss to Vanderbilt and a four-point loss vs. Iowa State.

"We should have a good game, but we can't really take these guys lightly," said wide receiver Stedman Bailey. "It's a conference game, so it's a big game."

In addition, UConn has one of the toughest rush defenses in the country to go up against the Mountaineers' newly found successful rushing attack. Still, the Huskies have had struggles defending the pass this season.

"It's the same players as last year, but it's a different scheme. Every coach has a different philosophy," Smith said. "We have to work our butts off. We can't take anyone lightly. We can't look at the paper stats, because anything can happen on any given Saturday."

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