Bits & Bytes: WVU - Rutgers

It's a noon start, so make sure you catch every last bit of information (neatly wrapped up here) before you settle in for the West Virginia - Rutgers game

JUST WONDERING

Why don't kickers and punters get credited for starts in official statistics? Is it because only the starters on the first offensive and defensive plays from scrimmage are counted? A backlash against kickers? Or is it simply that no one has ever thought about it until now? Obviously, my mind is wandering. Gametime can't get here soon enough.

OWNING THE LIST

Two of the three quarterbacks that hold a piece of West Virginia's single game pass completion percentage record are on this year's squad. The mark is 90%, held jointly by Mike Sherwood, Adam Bednarik and Patrick White. Sherwood and Bednarik were each 9-10 in games against Richmond (1970) and Rutgers (2005) respectively, while White had a much higher degree of difficulty, going 18-20 against East Carolina earlier this year.

SIZE MATTERS?

Popular opinion holds that the West Virginia defensive front line is undersized, and while that may be valid when compared to some teams, it doesn't hold water in this week's contest. The Rutgers defensive line averages just 260 pounds per man, while WVU, if it deploys Dingle, Neild and Dykes, checks in at 290.

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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
Size and weight are often overrated factors in comparing offensive and defensive line play, and too much emphasis can certainly be put on measurables. However, in a game where constant pounding by opposing lines comes into play, the ability of a defense to stand up to four quarters of mashing has to be taken into account. Whether West Virginia's offensive line is capable of doing that to a quality foe remains to be seen.

On the flip side, the Rutgers roadgraders are well-versed in slugging it out for 60 minutes with opposing lines, and wearing them down in the fourth quarter. Having Ray Rice running behind them certainly helps as well. While neither he (nor anyone else) "gets stronger as the game goes on", as many talking heads are wont to blather, he may tire less quickly than his foes, making him a dangerous fourth quarter runner.

TREND REVERSAL

After going 0-25 against top ten teams in the first 136 years of its football history, Rutgers has fashioned a two-game winning streak against such foes (Louisville in 2006 and South Florida last week). This week's game against West Virginia falls into that classification as well, and marks the first time Rutgers has ever faced top ten opponents in consecutive games.

THE REAL REASON?

Rutgers' true freshman Anthony Davis, who just turned 18 on Oct. 11, has started the last two games at right guard for Rutgers, and he just might be the reason for an upsurge in the Scarlet Knights' rushing fortunes. Of course, running back Ray Rice has something to do with that as well, but Rutgers has increased its rushing output noticeably with Davis in the starting lineup.

In those two contests, Rutgers has averaged 199 rushing yards, including 170 against defensive-minded South Florida. Davis is the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for Rutgers since Jeremy Zuttah made five starts up front in 2004. Ironically, Zuttah is now just one spot down the line from Davis at right tackle, and is winding up an outstanding career for the Scarlet Knights.

SCORING DISPARITY

In West Virginia's 12 consecutive wins over Rutgers, the Mountaineers have outscored Scarlet Knights 540-203, for an average of 45.0 points to 16.9 points per game. Of course, this sort of stat means absolutely nothing in terms of handicapping this year's contest, but it's a fun number nonetheless.

MEDIA GUIDE MUSINGS

In light of its leap to national prominence last year (fueled in part by ESPN's style over substance journalistic approach), Rutgers could be expected to highlight the hoopla in its media guide. However, an entire page dedicated to the manner in which the Scarlet Knights travel to away games? We kid you not.

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Game Links
GameDay Weather
Road Conditions
RU Message Board
RU Official Site
RU Roster
Stadium Seating
Tailgating
Immediately following a two-page spread on the Texas Bowl, a page with a photo of a plane and a two-paragraph description of Rutgers' travel plans appears. Included is a description of police escorts and a step-by-step process of how the team boards the plane and travels to its destination. We're guessing that Rutgers' tie-in with Continental Airlines has something to do with it.

Another thing that stands out about the Rutgers guide is its overdependence on photos. There is probably less text in the Rutgers media guide than in any other such publication we've reviewed this year. There's certainly nothing wrong with photos, but it seems like this guide overusues them a bit. Particularly glaring is the inside back cover, which proclaims "The State of Rugers" while featuring photos of New York City venues, the Jersey shore, the Meadowlands football stadium and, oddly enough, a golf course.

We also learn that Rutgers, which was once known as Queens college, used the nickname "Queensmen" until the early 1950s, when "Knights" was selected as the new mascot.


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