Last week we noted that it would be difficult for Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez to reach the .500 mark at WVU in the game against Virginia Tech. The Rod squad did just that, however, with their 21-18 win over the Hokies that put Rodriguez' career WVU slate at 11-11.
This week, the Mountaineers have another .500 mark to shoot for. West Virginia is 53-54-2 all time in regular season finales.
West Virginia should be flying high after their road win over the Hokies. From a logical standpoint, Pitt shouldn't be too down after dropping a hard-fought battle to the number one ranked Miami Hurricanes, but remember that we're talking about youngsters here.
|WVU 5-1, 8-3
Pitt 5-1, 8-3
|Sat. 11/30 1:00 pm|
|Series: Pitt 58-33-3|
|AP: WVU-24 Pitt-17|
|Line: Pitt -2.5|
|Stats & Trends|
That factor may be the biggest intangible in this contest. Will the Panthers be able to put last week's disappointment behind them and come out with focus and fire? Or will there be a hangover? I suspect it will be the former.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
Although WVU isn't among the nation's leaders in many pass defense categories, they have been more aggressive in getting to the ball this year. The Mountaineer defense has generated a number of tipped passes, knockdowns and breakups this year -- many more than in recent seasons. This, despite the fact the the Mountaineer secondary tends to cover deep first, which often keeps them from strongly contending short passes.
WVU has 67 pass breakups this year, indluding 14 from team leader Jahmile Addae and 10 from cornerback Brian King. Remember that the next time someone says the the Mountaineers play too soft against the pass.
One of the few things the Panthers don't do well is finish in the red zone. Pitt is a mediocre 36-53 in the red zone, which is a scoring rate of only 67.9%) (For comarison, WVU is 41-49, yielding an 83.7% conversion rate.)
Taking is a step further, of Pitt's 36 scores, only 24 have been touchdowns. On the Mountaineer side of the ledger, 37 of their 41 scores have been TDs.
Of course, Pitt has been scoring enough to win eight games, so in the end, this stat might be as overrated as time of possession. However, it should give West Virginia, who came up with two big goal line stands against Virginia Tech in their last outing, cause to keep fighting when the Panthers mount scoring efforts.
As if the traditional rivalry betwene the two schools isn't enough, remember that this is Senior Day for the Panthers. The extended buildup, with a sellout crowd, won't hurt Pitt a bit.
Pitt has outscored their opponents in every quarter this year. WVU, on the other hand, has gone for the big strike in the second stanza, blitzing foes by a margin of 122-51.