Preview: West Virginia - Connecticut

Who would have guessed that the late November meeting between the Mountaineers and Huskies would decide the Big East champion and representative to the BCS? Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 3-0-0
Sat 11/24/07 3:30 PM
Morgantown, WV

Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 9-1
BCS: 3rd
Last Game
Rutgers W 31-3

Click for Piscataway, New Jersey Forecast
Record: 9-2
BCS : 20th
Last Game
Cuse W 30-7
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First Meeting: 2004
Last Meeting: 2006
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2007 Schedule


WVU: James Ingram (Back) Out, Reed Williams (Head) Probable, Antonio Lewis (Head) Probable

UConn: Aaron Bagsby Out, Steve Brouse Probable, Lawrence Green Questionable, Alex LaMagdiane Questionable

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. UC defense

Leading the aggressive Husky defense has been a trio of excellent linebackers. In the middle, Danny Lansanah (6-1, 244) leads the team with 109 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. The Connecticut team captain also has three interceptions and three pass break-ups on the season.

Joining Lansanah at linebacker will be Lawrence Wilson (6-1, 220) and Scott Lutrus (6-3, 220). Wilson and Lutrus have combined for 191 stops, including 14.5 tackles for loss. The pair has also teamed up for five interceptions. For the Mountaineer running game to be successful, the offensive line and fullback will need to get blocks on the second level of defenders -- a difficult task against the active UConn backers.
Game Info
WVU 9-1, 4-1
UCONN 9-2, 5-1
Sat 11/24/07 3:30 PM
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: WVU 3-0-0
Bob Wischusen - play-by-play,
David Norrie - analysis

Jeannine Edwards - sideline
USA: WVU 6th -UC 21st
Line: WVU -15.5
The Husky secondary has recorded 21 interceptions, good enough for second in the nation behind the Cincinnati Bearcats. Starting safety Robert Vaughn (6-0, 189) leads UConn with five interceptions and has racked up 47 tackles this season.

Joinging Vaughn in the secondary will be Tyvon Branch (6-0, 193), Dahna Deleston (6-0, 198) and Darius Butler (5-11, 185). Branch has 72 stops and leads the team with nine pass break-ups, while Deleston and Bulter have combined for 131 tackles and 11 pass break-ups.

On the Husky defensive line, Cody Brown (6-3, 248) and Julius Williams (6-2, 261) have been the biggest contributors, with a combined 14 sacks and 22 tackles for a loss.

Rounding out the defensive line will tackles, Rob Lunn (6-4, 281) and Dan Davis (6-1, 284). These two hole pluggers have teamed for 67 tackles and four quarterback sacks.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 14th in total offense (459.90 yds/game), third in rushing offense (289.40 yds/game) and 107th in passing offense (170.50 yds/game)

UC is ranked 21st in total defense (321.09 yds/game), 34th in rushing defense (125.91 yds/game) and 17th in passing defense (195.18 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. UC offense

The Husky offense is lead by junior college quarterback Tyler Lorenzen (6-5, 226). Lorenzen has had a productive 2007 campaign, completing 58% of his passes (170-293) for 2118 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Iowa native is also a threat to run, not to the extent of a Ben Mauk or Matt Grothe, but he is third on the team in rushing with 300 yards.

The two running threats in the backfield are Andre Dixon (6-1, 187) and Donald Brown (5-10, 213). Dixon, a sophomore, has gained 742 yards on 145 attempts for an average of 5.1 yards per tote, and has been a pleasant surprise for head coach Randy Edsall.

Dixon's running mate Brown leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns, and averages 4.6 yards per carry. The New Jersey native was the only freshman in the Big East to be named to the All-Conference team in 2006.

Lorenzen's top pass catcher this season is Terence Jeffers (6-2, 211). Jeffers has hauled in 39 passes for 522 yards and five touchdowns.

The second leading receiver is former Husky quarterback D.J. Hernandez (6-1, 202). The athletic Hernandez has 29 receptions for 405 yards and two touchdowns. His presence also hints at the possibility of trick plays, which WVU must be prepared for.

The Mountaineer defensive line will have their hands full with the massive Husky offensive line, which averages six feet, five inches and 308 pounds per starter. Dan Ryan (6-8, 304) and William Beatty (6-6, 306) start at the tackle positions while the interior of the line is comprised of Mike Hicks (6-6, 336), Keith Gray (6-2, 294) and Donald Thomas (6-3, 300). This is UConn's best line since it moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, and is an unheralded factor in its success this year.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked fourth in total defense (288.60 yds/game), 13th in rushing defense (93.00 yds/game) and 18th in passing defense (195.60 yds/game).

UC is ranked 86th in total offense (355.27 yds/game), 51st in rushing offense (161.82 yds/game) and 91st in passing offense (193.45 yds/game).

Advantage: Push

WVU special teams vs. UC special teams

The Connecticut special teams have been very productive this season, producing three touchdowns and 21 field goals.
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Scoring two of those touchdown has been Branch, who is one of the most dangerous return men int he country. The New York native has averaged an impressive 34.0 yards on 17 kick returns, good for second nationally.

Handling the punt returns will be diminutive senior Larry Taylor (5-6, 167). You may remember Taylor for his fake fair catch in the Louisville game that he returned for a touchdown in a 21-17 win over the Cardinals.

Having a solid season as the Husky place kicker is Tony Ciaravino (6-2, 232). Ciaravino has connected on 21-26 field goals, with his long being from 50 yards. The junior is 12 for 12 inside 30 yards.

The Husky punter will be Desi Cullen (6-1, 196), a sophomore from Louisville, Kentucky. Cullen has averaged 40.6 yards per punt with 39 of his 59 punts going for either touchbacks, fair catches or downed inside the 20-yard line.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 54rd in net punting (35.58 yds/punt), 65th in kick returns (21.16 yds/return) and 29th in punt returns (11.03 yds/return).

UC is ranked 73rd in net punting (34.50 yds/punt), 21st in kick returns (23.49 yds/return) and 32nd in punt returns (10.75 yds/return)

Advantage: Push

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Steve Slaton

On Defense: Morty Ivy


The Mountaineers match up well against the upstart Huskies from the Nutmeg State. The strength of the Husky offensive attack istheir rushing game, which collides with the excellent run defense of West Virginia's 3-3-5 formation. On the flip side, the Huksy defense boasts the 17th-ranked passing defense, while the Mountaineers will counter with their usual run-dominated attack.

I'll admit, on paper this game looks like a blowout, but somehow the Huskies have managed to stay in 10 of their 11 games until the end. While WVU has superior talent, the offense will continue to shoot itself in the foot and keep the game close thoughout.

WVU - 28 UConn - 24

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