Big East Title on The Line

Many expected West Virginia to be playing for the Big East championship. It's hard to imagine anyone could have predicted the same for Connecticut.

The fourth-ranked Mountaineers and No. 20 Huskies meet in Morgantown on Saturday with a conference title and an automatic bid to a BCS bowl on the line.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made West Virginia –17.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on Connecticut +17.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

West Virginia seeks its second Big East title in three years, while Connecticut, only in its sixth year in the Football Bowl Subdivision, looks for its first when the teams clash at Mountaineer Field.

The Huskies (9-2, 5-1) are in first place in the Big East, a half-game ahead of the second-place Mountaineers (9-1, 4-1), and can secure the conference title and a BCS berth with a win in this game.

Its an amazing position for UConn, considering it went 4-8 last season and was picked by the media to finish seventh in the eight-team conference.

"Probably nobody in America ever thought that (was possible), except for the guys in that locker room," Huskies coach Randy Edsall said after last Saturday's 30-7 victory over Syracuse.

"I'll be truthful with you. I thought we'd be a better football team this year, but I didn't know where it was going to go."

While UConn is enjoying an astonishing season, West Virginia is right where most people thought it would be.

The Mountaineers were selected to finish first in the Big East in the preseason, and still have a chance to play in the national title game.

West Virginia beat then-No. 21 Cincinnati 28-23 last Saturday, and along with losses by No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oklahoma, the Mountaineers moved up one spot in the AP poll and three spots in the BCS standings to third.

For the time being, though, they're focused on winning their first conference championship since 2005 after finishing one game behind Louisville for last season's title.

"That's the only goal we talk about much - capturing the Big East championship," West Virgina coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Now we're to the point that we can say this game is for the Big East championship. It is."

The Mountaineers have one game remaining after this week, hosting Pittsburgh on Dec. 1, but this will be the last game of the season for UConn.

"It means a lot," Mountaineers star quarterback Pat White said. "We have home-field advantage on our side going into it."

West Virginia has won all four of its home games this season, and 25 of its last 28 at Mountaineer Field. UConn, meanwhile, has lost its last two road contests.

The only meeting in Morgantown between these teams came on Nov. 2, 2005, when West Virginia won 45-13 behind two rushing touchdowns and a TD pass from White.

In the Mountaineers' 37-11 win at UConn last season, White passed for 156 yards and a touchdown and ran for 102 yards and another score. The Huskies have lost all three games against West Virginia since they made the jump to the FBS in 2002.

White was 13-of-19 for 140 yards and rushed a career-high 27 times for 155 yards and two scores in last week's win, although he also threw an interception and had a pair of late fumbles that kept the score close.

"I think he played like the Big East offensive player of the year - minus the fumbles," Rodriguez said.

In his last three games, White has passed for 465 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while running for 458 yards and four TDs.

Junior running back Steve Slaton ran for 103 yards and scored his 15th rushing touchdown of the season last Saturday. He has amassed 199 rushing yards and two TDs in two career games against the Huskies.

West Virginia is first in the conference in scoring, averaging 39.2 points, while UConn is first in scoring defense, allowing an average of 14.3 points.

The Huskies bounced back from a 27-3 loss at Cincinnati on Nov. 10 with last week's victory.

Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen threw for 213 yards and a touchdown, and tailback Donald Brown rushed for 99 yards and a score to help UConn move up five spots in the latest AP poll.

"I knew we had it in us," Brown said. "We have all the tools and we have utilized them to allow us this opportunity."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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