Sat 12/5/09 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh W 19-16
Louisville W 34-14
Series: WVU 30-4-2
First Meeting: 1916
Last Meeting: 2008
Jarrett Brown's career completion percentage of 64.7 puts him just a tenth of a point behind current WVU record holder Patrick White, who completed 64.8% of his passes during his stellar career. The advent of the side receiver screen has certainly helped both quarterbacks rise to the top of this list, but it's still interesting to note that two of West Virginia's most accurate passers played in overlapping careers.
White is second, and Brown sixth, on West Virginia's career passing efficiency list. Who holds the number one spot? Answer at the end of this column.
A STREAK OF THEIR OWN
While West Virginia's winning streak over Rutgers (last loss in 1994) has been common pre-game fodder, it should also be pointing out that Rutgers has won eight consecutive home games in the month of November and December. The Scarlet Knights' last loss at home in November or December was vs. USF in 2005.
Now, do either of those facts have an effect on the 2009 game? They might be used for a bit of motivation, but once the teams hit the field, neither figures to have much of an impact. Every talking head and scribbler mentions these things, which is o.k. But to take the next step and assume that items like this play a part in the outcome is a big stretch.
But just in case you aren't buying that, WVU is 1-0 all time in true road games in December.
The more you dive inside the numbers produced by the Rutgers defense, the more impressive it appears. The Scarlet Knights have allowed just 23 trips into the red zone in 2009, which is the second lowest total in the nation. Only Alabama (20) has allowed fewer. Rutgers is also 12th nationally and first in the Big East in third-down efficiency defense (32.2 %), and have allowed just 15.5 first downs per game, the 10th-best figure nationally and tops in the league.
While it's easy to throw stats around, these figures show that Rutgers doesn't let opponents put together many long drives or play keepaway with the ball.
In the win over Connecticut, Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty played a staggering 111 plays. McCourty was at cornerback for all 86 plays on defense, and he logged 25 plays on special teams, where he's part of the punt coverage, punt return, kickoff coverage and kickoff return teams.
McCourty is one of two players in the country to block a punt and return a kickoff for a touchdown in 2009. He has blocked seven career kicks and scored three touchdowns (two interception returns and one kickoff return). In 2009, McCourty has blocked three kicks, which ranks second nationally. At cornerback, he leads Rutgers with 74 tackles. For his career, he has 232 tackles, 24 pass breakups and six interceptions.
While WVU has allowed only 13 rushers to gain 100 yards or more in its last 61 contests, four of those have come in the Mountaineers' most recent four contests. WVU has yielded 100 or more yards to five rushers in all in 2009.
THE REAL KEY
The Scarlet Knight defense is very good. Its offense is solid. But its ability to protect and take the ball away is unparalleled. RU leads the nation in turnover differential with a +1.82 mark this year, having taken the pigskin 30 times while yielding it just ten. Over the last 18 games, the numbers are even better. Over that span, Rutgers is +28, and has forced 47 turnovers.
Based on our previous visits to Rutgers, it would seem that the Piscataway/Brunswick metro area gets more rain than Seattle. The primary gear for any Mountaineer-Scarlet Knight football clash in the state of New Jersey has been rain suits for, oh, about the last ten visits, it seems. Maybe that rainy streak coincides with WVU's winning streak there?
Saturday's outlook calls for a high of 41 degrees and a 60% chance of snow. I'd much rather have snow than rain.
Jake "The Snake" Kelchner, who played in the 1992 and 1993 seasons, is WVU's career best in the passing efficiency category with a mark of 148.42. White just missed owning that record with a 147.37 mark.