Wed 11/9/05 7:30
BCS Rank: 14
UConn 45-13 W
Rtn Lettermen: 41
Rtn Starters: 17
BCS Rank: 71
Syr 22-16 L
Rtn Lettermen: 36
Rtn Starters: 8
Last Meeting: 2003
The last two games in the series have been decided by lengthy missed field goal attempts. Three years ago, Cincinnati missed a potential game-tying 49-yard field goal as time expired, allowing West Virginia to escape with a 35-32 win. That kick, which doinked off the left upright, probably would have been good had the UC grounds crew not corrected an outward lean of the upright the day before the game.
Two years ago, WVU repaid the favor by missing a 48-yarder with 2:23 to go, thus preserving the ‘Cats 15-13 triumph. In that contest, UC's Chet Ervin made three field goals to help power the win. Ervin is now Cincinnati's punter.
PAIR OF NINES
Not only is it a good starting poker hand, but it's also indicative of WVU's 2005 success. The Mountaineers rank ninth nationally in total defense (290 yards per game) and rushing offense (229.4 ypg). Other than scoring defense, I can't think of another statistical area that I would prefer to be ranked highly in.
Although Mountaineer fans continue to harp on the lack of a passing game, if I had to choose one, I certainly prefer being able to run it.
No, not UC's program, but rather the age of its football facility. Nippert Stadium is the fifth-oldest Division 1 facility still in use, training only Harvard (1903), Georgia Tech (1914), Yale (1914) and Cornell (1915) in continuous use. Nonagenarian Nippert opened in 1916, and sits on the site where the Bearcats have been playing football since 1902.
|WVU 7-1, 4-0
UC 4-4, 2-2
|Wed 11/9/05 7:30 p.m.|
|Series: WVU 11-1-1|
|BCS: WVU -13 UC-??|
|Line: WVU -??|
|Stats & Trends|
For reference, just check WVU, which benefited greatly from the building of Mountaineer Field in 1980. Oddly enough, Nippert Stadium now looks a good deal like WVU's original Mountaineer Field would have looked had a proposed 10,000-seat expansion deal gone through. Fortunately for West Virginia and its fans, that idea was scrapped in favor of the new facility.
SPREADING THE LOAD
West Virginia has eight players averaging more than 20 yards per game rushing this year. Can you name them? No fair peeking before you make your list! Answer at the end of the column.
Like West Virginia, UC made hay in the pass rush against Connecticut. Both teams recorded six quarterback takedowns against the Huskies. That stat probably speaks to the state of UConn's offensive line more than it does to the increased pressure generated by either the Bearcats or Mountaineers, but it will be interesting to see which team is able to generate more of a rush in Wednesday evening's nationally televised contest.
West Virginia will be looking to even its all-time November road record in the game. The Mountaineers are currently 108-109-11 on the road in the Thanksgiving month. There is no word on what WVU's November road record under a waning moon when the temperature is under 40 degrees at kickoff while wearing all-white uniforms.
YOUTH IS SERVED
By more than one measure, the Bearcats are the youngest defensive unit in the nation. That, coupled with the fact that Cincinnati has been respectable on that side of the ball, bodes well for future UC defenses.
|UC Message Board|
|UC Official Site|
While it's true that the ‘Cats defensive unit isn't ranked highly in the NCAA's defensive statistics, there is a lot to be said for growing up together and improving step by step. Cincinnati's defensive recruiting class wasn't rated highly on signing day, but it has become apparent that several members of that group, including Byrd and Smith, have the ability to be standouts in the Big East. Those who would scoff at such a notion might think of a similar situation that has played itself out on the basketball court at the WVU Coliseum over the past three years.
Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, Pat White, Adam Bednarik, Jason Gwaltney, Jason Colson, Pernell Williams and Arlen Dorsey are all averaging at least 20 yards per game this year.