Preview: West Virginia - Rutgers

The Mountaineers travel to New Jersey looking to top Rutgers for the 13th consecutive time, while the Scarlet Knights try to keep their Big East title hopes alive with a second striaght win over a Top Ten team.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 28-4-2
Sat 10/27 Noon
Piscataway, NJ

Rutgers Stadium
Record: 6-1
BCS: 7th
Last Game
MSU W 38-13

Click for Piscataway, New Jersey Forecast
Record: 5-2
BCS: NR
Last Game
USF W 30-27
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2007 Schedule
First Meeting: 1916
Last Meeting: 2006
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule

Injuries:

WVU: James Ingram (Back) Out, Quinton Andrews (Knee) Questionable, Will Johnson (Knee) Questionable, Patrick White (Chest) Probable

Rutgers: Mike Teel (Hand) Questionable

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. RU defense

The Rutgers defense is led by Eric Foster (6-2, 265), one of the best defensive lineman in college football. The fifth-year senior was named to the 2007 Outland Trophy Preseason Watch List and is a member of the 2007 Nagurski Trophy Watch List, which goes to the nation's top defensive player. Foster has recorded 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries on the season.

Joining Foster on the line will be Jamaal Westerman (6-3, 260), another excellent defender. Westerman, an All Big East candidate, has racked up 30 tackles, (nine of them behind the line of scrimmage), six sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

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Game Info
WVU 6-1, 1-1
RU 5-2, 2-1
Sat 10/27 Noon
Rutgers Stadium
Series: WVU 28-4-2
TV: ABC
Brad Nessler, Play-by-Play

Bob Griese, Color Analyst

Paul Maguire, Color Analyst
Bonnie Bernstein, Sideline
BCS: WVU 7th - RU NR
Line: WVU -6.5
Rounding out the line will be George Johnson (6-4, 250) and Pete Tverdov (6-4, 265). The pair have combined for 43 stops.

Leading the linebackers this season has been Kevin Malast (6-2, 230). The hard-hitting junior is tops on the team with 55 tackles.

Playing along side Malast will be Brandon Renkart (6-3, 230) and Damaso Munoz (6-0, 210). Renkart and Munoz have posted impressive statistics, teaming for 85 tackles, 3.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

The second player for the Scarlet Knights to make the 2007 Nagurski Trophy Watch List is free safety Courtney Green (6-2, 210). Green leads the defensive backs with 54 stops, and has one sack and one interception on the season.

Teaming with Green at safety is senior Ron Girault (5-11, 200). Girault, who was named Preseason Second Team All-Big East by The Sporting News and Athlon, has recorded 22 tackles and one pick this season.

The starting cornerbacks are twin brothers Devin (5-11, 180) and Jason McCourtney (5-11, 185). The New York natives have totaled 55 stops along with 11 pass break-ups.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 12th in total offense (481.29 yds/game), second in rushing offense (304.14 yds/game) and 103rd in passing offense (177.14 yds/game)

RU is ranked 17th in total defense (306.14 yds/game), 44th in rushing defense (135.71 yds/game) and seventh in passing defense (170.43 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. RU offense

The Rutgers offense is lead by All-Everything running back, Ray Rice (5-9, 205). Rice is one of the best offensive players in the country and is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. The junior leads the Big East with 142.7 yards per game, which puts him clear of his next closest competitor by 27 yards per contest. The New York native has reached paydirt 14 times this season.

Handing the ball off to Rice will be junior signal caller Mike Teel (6-4, 220), but that's not the limit of his duties. Teel has had an excellent season, completing 116 of 197 passes (58.9%) for 1996 yards and 14 touchdowns against six interceptions. Teel is suffering from an injured thumb on his throwing hand, so if he cannot play the WVU defense will see Jabu Lovelace (6-2, 205). Lovelace is 2-5 for 28 yards through the air, and has made appearances to run the ball on several situations this year.

If Rice and Teel are not enough to deal with, the Mountaineers will also face one of the best receiving corps in the conference. Tiqaun Underwood (6-2, 180) is an explosive playmaker that leads the team with 39 receptions for 789 yards and six touchdowns. His average of 112.7 yards per game is good enough for second in the league.

Teaming with Underwood will be junior Kenny Britt (6-4, 205). Britt has hauled in 29 passes for 667 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

The massive offensive line is lead by senior tackle Pedro Sosa (6-5, 290). The New Jersey native is a member of the Outland Trophy Preseason Watch List, which is awarded to the nation's top interior lineman. Manning the guard position to the right of Sosa will be Mike Fladell (6-8, 320), who has been named Preseason First Team All-Big East by the Sporting News and Phil Steele.

Rounding out the line is center Ryan Biaszczyk (6-4, 285), Anthony Davis (6-6, 350) and Jeremy Zuttah (6-4, 295). Biaszczyk and Davis have nine starts under their belt while Zuttah is a member of the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, recognizing the nation's top lineman.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked fourth in total defense (254.71 yds/game), 12th in rushing defense (89.43 yds/game) and fifth in passing defense (165.29 yds/game).

RU is ranked 13th in total offense (476.86 yds/game), 35th in rushing offense (180.43 yds/game) and 14th in passing offense (296.43 yds/game).

Advantage: Push

WVU special teams vs. RU special teams

The Rutgers special teams are lead by one of the top kickers in the nation. Jeremy Ito (5-11, 190) was named to the 2007 Playboy All-America team, rated the No. 4 kicker in the nation by Lindy's and was a 2006 semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.

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Like West Virginia's Pat McAfee, Ito handles the kickoff and punting duties for the Scarlet Knights as well. On the season, the California native has connected on 12-16 field goals with a long of 51 yards and averaged 35.4 yards on 26 punts.

Returning kickoffs and punts for Rutgers will be a combination of Dennis Campbell (5-9, 180) and Tim Brown (5-8, 160). Campbell leads the team with 37 yards on four punt returns while Brown leads the Knights with 292 yards on 13 kick returns, good for an average of 22.5 yards per attempt.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 91st in net punting (32.78 yds/punt), 65th in kick returns (21.08 yds/return) and 33rd in punt returns (11.85 yds/return).

RU is ranked 115th in net punting (30.69 yds/punt), T-37th in kick returns (22.87 yds/return) and 54th in punt returns (9.60 yds/return)

Advantage: Push

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Daruis Reynaud

On Defense: Ryan Mundy

Prediction:

Over the past few seasons, Rutgers football has finally turned the corner and is now a Big East power. The Scarlet Knights won their first bowl game last season and made its first trip to the top 10 in the past year, but two items remain unfinished: winning the conference championship and beating the Mountaineers. WVU has been a thorn in the side of Rutgers, much like Penn State was to West Virginia for many years. The Mountaineers have dominated the last 12 meetings, going 12-0 with an average score of 45-17. But just like WVU beat Penn State, Rutgers will eventually beat West Virginia, and that time is upon us.

WVU's offense can move the ball on the Rutgers defense and I think WVU's defense can slow down the Rutgers offense, but some games are won and lost on intangibles. Emotion and home field advantage, among other factors, can be the deciding factor in a game, as it will in this one.

West Virginia loses its chance at another BCS bowl game while Rutgers moves towards its first BCS game.

WVU - 24 RU - 27


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