When: 11/8, Noon
Last Week: Pitt
Returning Starters: 12
Last Week: Miami
Returning Starters: 13
Last Meeting: 2002
Syracuse fullback Thump Belton gets the ball just enough to keep defenses honest. In actuality, it's what he does with the ball when he gets it that has defenders' attention.
Although Belton averages just three carries per game, he picks up an average of 4.9 yards per carry and has not lost a yard from scrimmage this year. As the first choice on the triple option, and in getting the ball on the occasional quick hitter, Belton makes defenses check him before following the flow of the quarterback and tailback, which is a huge advantage for the Syracuse offense. Might West Virginia hand the ball to Moe Fofana once in this game to see if they could get a similar result?
YEAR OF .500
There have been a number of records this year that have hovered around the .500 mark, and this week's game brings another one. WVU is 107-108-11 on the road all-time during the month of November, and could even it out with a win over the Orangemen.
Syracuse has had a bevy of good running backs, but only three have recorded back to back 1,000 yard seasons. Current tailback Walter Reyes has just turned the trick, joining Joe Morris (1978-79) and Larry Csonka (1966-67).
RUN OR CATCH?
While Reyes is outstanding on the ground, he's almost as good at catching the ball. Syracuse uses the multitalented back in several different pass patterns, and Reyes has shown that he can be just as dangerous on passing downs as he is in running situations.
He's snared 28 passes for 219 yards this season, and those numbers are definitely worrisome ones for WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.
DOWN AND DISTANCE
On which down do the Mountaineers average the most yards? Surprisingly, it's fourth. WVU has racked up 151 yards on 14 fourth downs this year, for an average of 10.8 yards per play.
Of course, that total was boosted by Chris Henry's 83-yard scoring reception against Rutgers and John Pennington's 28-yard touchdown catch against Pitt, but it's sitll an eye-catching number.
We've talked about several different aspects of the Carrier Dome, but one thing that seems to escape mention is the lighting. Not that it's bad - it's just different.
The lights in the dome are lower than those on most fields, of course, and the light they give is definitely different than outdoor lighting. It's hard to describe, but there's an almost video gamish quality to it.
It takes some adjusting, especially for receivers and kick returners as they attempt pick the ball out from the neutral background.