White ready to roll

West Virginia's banged-up star quarterback got extra time to get healthy for his team's stretch run.

After a week off, Pat White and the ninth-ranked Mountaineers (5-1) return to the field to host SEC foe Mississippi State (4-3) on Saturday.

White sat out the second half of West Virginia's lone defeat, 21-13 at South Florida on Sept. 28, after bruising his thigh. He returned the following week at Syracuse, but had to leave midway through the third quarter with a strained chest muscle.

Still, coach Rich Rodriguez was confident last week that the bye will allow White to be ready Saturday.

"He'll be limited this week in practice. Hopefully by the end of the week he'll start to do more," Rodriguez said. "Thankfully we've got an open week."

White was 12-of-15 for 148 yards and one touchdown, and had 14 carries for a team-high 89 yards and another TD in the 55-14 win over the Orange. White ranks second on the team with 446 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, trailing running back Steve Slaton, who has 647 yards and nine TDs on the ground.

Despite leaving early, White still earned Big East offensive player of the week honors.

Slaton entered the game ranked second in the country with 122.4 rushing yards per contest, but was limited to 69 yards and no touchdowns on 15 carries.

West Virginia, however, still managed to bounce back nicely from its defeat to South Florida, currently ranked No. 2. Fullback Owen Schmitt recorded his first two touchdowns of the season as the Mountaineers scored the most points ever allowed by Syracuse at home.

"You always have concerns after a loss," said Rodriguez, who earned his 100th career victory. "We lost a lot of our confidence (with the South Florida defeat). I wanted our guys to get their confidence back, and the only way you can do that is to make plays."

West Virginia ranks sixth in the nation with 42.8 points per game and fourth with 311.2 rushing yards per contest. After Saturday's non-conference matchup, the Mountaineers have three straight tough Big East games against Rutgers, Louisville and No. 23 Cincinnati.

The loss to the Bulls tempered West Virginia's national title hopes, but Rodriguez says he's moved on.

"We'll control what we can control, and we're not going to dwell on it. We will learn from it," he said. "There is a lot that is going to happen between now and the end of the season.

I'm not worried about where we are ranked. I'm not worried about the national championship. I'm just worried about winning the next game."

The Mountaineers pummeled Mississippi State 42-14 last season in the only previous meeting between the teams. Steve Slaton ran for 185 yards and a touchdown and White rushed for 76 yards and two scores.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global  have made West Virginia -24.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Thursday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Mississippi St. +24.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

The Bulldogs, however, are a different team this season. They've won four games for the first time since 2000 and their losses have come against SEC powers LSU, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The Bulldogs lost 33-21 to the Volunteers on Saturday, but were competitive against the 20th-ranked team. Freshman Wes Carroll threw for 203 yards - 110 more than his previous career high - and his first two touchdowns of the season.

Carroll is one of three quarterbacks to make a start this season because of injuries for the Bulldogs, who rank last in the SEC with 143.7 passing yards per game. Carroll was diagnosed with a mild concussion at halftime, but will start against the Mountaineers.

"Wes is making good decisions so our receivers have to step up and make some good plays," coach Sylvester Croom said.

Anthony Dixon, fifth in the conference with 99.1 rushing yards a game and first with 10 rushing touchdowns, ran for 108 yards and a score.

The Bulldogs, though, allowed 211 rushing yards, just the second time this season they have given up 200. Mississippi State is sixth in the conference with 157.6 rushing yards allowed per game.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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