The Mountaineers have dominated the series with the Scarlet Knights. WVU has won the last six contests by the average score of 47.16 to 15.66. In addition, WVU has never lost to Rutgers at home. The four games that Rutgers won waere in 1921, 1984, 1992 and 1994. WVU's record in those years were 5-4-1, 8-4, 5-4-2, and 7-6, respectively. WVU won last year 31-24 in double overtime.
Rutgers players to watch:
QB-Ryan Cubit, KR-Nathon Jones, WR-Aaron Martin, K-Ryan Sands, P-Mike Barr, DB-Nate Colon, DB-Shawn Seabrooks, LB-Raheem Orr, LB-Gary Brackett, DE-Billy Tulloch, LB-Brad Cunningham, DE- Alred Peterson
WVU - Rasheed Marshall (Wrist) Out, Rick Sherrod (Knee) Probable, Grant Wiley (Hamstring) Probable, Lew Daniels (Knee) Questionable, Brad Lewis (Neck) Probable
Rutgers - Will Burnett (Eligibility) Out, Steve Barone (Groin) Questionable, Brian Bender (Neck) Questionable, Rikki Cook (Foot) Questionable, Brandon Haw (Knee) Questionable, Torrance Heggie (Calf) Questionable, Jarvis Johnson (Knee) Questionable, Seth Stanton (Knee) Questionable
WVU 2-5, 0-3
Rutgers 2-5, 0-4
Sat. 1/3 1:00 p.m.
TV:MSN Tape Delay
BCS: WVU-74 RU-104
Line: WVU -19
Stats & Trends
This will be a important game for Rodriguez's spread offense. If the Mountaineers have a healthy Brad Lewis (he should be 100%), WVU should be able to move the ball up and down the field on Rutgers which may allow Coach Rodriguez to work some kinks out of the offense. The Rutgers rush defense is not good, which I'm sure puts a big smile on Avon Cobourne's face.
Cobourne is having an outstanding year and the Scarlet Knights will do nothing to change things. Rutgers' rush defense is giving up 197.3 yds/game (91st nationally), plus Avon has had good success running against the Knights (117 yards in 2000 and 141 yards in 1999).
Rutgers' secondary is solid group but it would still never be confused with the Hurricane secondary. The Knights are giving up 172.1 yds/game passing which ranks them 60th nationally. Look for Lewis to try to go deep early and often using the speed of Mike Page and Antonio Brown and the size of Phil Braxton and Shawn Terry.
Advantage : WVU
WVU defense vs. Rutgers offense
This match-up is key for the Mountaineers. If the WVU front can get pressure on Rutgers' true freshman QB Ryan Cubit, it could be a long day for the Knights. Cubit is not experienced and the Mountaineers could force him into some bad decisions, which could lead directly into points for WVU. On the other hand, if Cubit has plenty of time to find his receivers, Rutgers could get a couple of quick scores and make it an interesting game.
The Scarlet Knights' rushing attack is nothing to write home about. Dennis Thomas, Rutgers starting running back, is only averaging 51.5 yds/game and only 122 yds/game as a team (ranking 84th nationally). The Mountaineers' rush defense looked much better against the Hurricanes (mostly due to the fact that Miami did not run the option) and should improve even more this week. Look for the Mountaineers to stop the Scarlet Knights' running attack and to keep pressure on the "green" Rutgers QB.
Rutgers has a solid kicking game with Ryan Sands doing the field goal kicking (he ranks 69th nationally) and Mike Barr, who averages 41.7 yds/ punt which ranks him 43rd nationally. Rutgers also has a explosive kick returner, Nathon Jones, who averages 19.5 yds/return (69th nationally).
I think we can all agree that the play of the Mountaineer special teams have improved since last year, but it is still disappointing to Rodriguez that the Gold and Blue have not blocked any kicks and that the punt and kick coverage teams have not performed up to par. Look for Shawn Terry to take at least one kick return past mid-field and for Todd James to continue to improve as the punter.
Advantage : WVU
Picks to Click:
On Offense: Avon Cobourne
On Defense: Richard Bryant
Stat of the week:
In every year that Rutgers has defeated the Mountaineers, WVU wound up the season with a winning record. That trend obviously won't continue this year if Rutgers comes out on top. Also, for the past seven years, WVU is 24-6 as a home favorite. In the same span, Rutgers is 3-29-1 as a road underdog.
The Mountaineers have their backs against the wall and will come out fighting! If WVU hopes to cling on to fading bowl hopes the Mountaineers must beat Rutgers this week then top Syracuse, Temple and Pitt. Not an impossible task be it will be very difficult. Rich Rodriguez will get his first victory in the Big East conference this week, with many, many more to come!
Score: WVU 38 - Rutgers 13
Other Big East Games
Temple 0 at Miami 53
Va. Tech 38 at Pitt 3