Rutgers Game is A Big One

It is the Big East game of the season– #13 Rutgers (10-1, 5- 1 Big East) versus #15 West Virginia (9- 2, 4- 2 Big East). What’s at stake is a BCS Bowl bid. If Rutgers wins they will go to either the Orange, Sugar or Rose Bowl. That’s all that there is to it. Even if #6 Louisville (10- 1, 5- 1 Big East) beats Connecticut (4- 7, 1- 5 Big East) on Saturday, which they should, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers will still win the Big East title by virtue of their win over Louisville 28- 25 on November 9th.

What happens if Rutgers loses and Louisville wins? Then the Cardinals win the title and get the automatic bowl bid. But what happens if West Virginia beats the Scarlet Knights and the Cardinals lose to the Huskies? Then there would be a three-way tie for the Big East title, with Rutgers, West Virginia and Louisville sharing 1 and 1 records against one another. The team with the highest ranking in the BCS would then get the bowl berth. You might think that that would be the Cardinals, but that’s not necessarily so.

If the Mountaineers beat the Knights, that win could catapult them past the Cardinals in the BCS standings. The spoilers look to be the Huskies. They can really cause a stir in their game, making the Rutgers- West Virginia match-up even more interesting.

On Saturday, December 2 at noon Connecticut visits Louisville. The Cardinals are 27-point favorites. At 7:45 pm on the same day, Rutgers plays at West Virginia, with the Mountaineers favored by 9.5-points.

During the season, the advantage in points scored goes to West Virginia 38.7 PPG (ranked 3rd nationally) to 28.3 (ranked 35th). Although the passing games for each team are fairly equal, the Mountaineer running attack is much more explosive—312.1 YPG (rankled 2nd) versus 177.9 YPG (ranked 22nd).

South Florida beat West Virginia last week 24- 19 by shutting down the Mountaineers running game. QB Pat White was held to 17 yards total and the team’s number one RB, Steve Slaton, was relegated to 43 yards total. Neither Slaton nor White scored a rushing touchdown. White leads the team with 17 rushing TDs, while Slaton has crossed the goal line on the ground 14 times this season.

That’s the key for Rutgers—stopping the West Virginia running attack. They can’t match them possession for possession, so they have to neutralize the Mountaineers’ efficiency when they have the ball, especially on the ground. In the game against South Florida, West Virginia rushed for only 132 yards, less than half of what they normally run up. The Mountaineers passed for 178 yards that day, just about 20 more than their average.

This has been a breakthrough football season for the Scarlet Knights. Can they possibly make it the biggest season that the school has ever seen? Stay tuned.

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