Keeping BCS Hopes Alive

West Virginia and Louisville each began the season expecting to play in a BCS game. It appears only one team will now have that chance.

The sixth-ranked Mountaineers look to keep that hope alive as they try for a fourth straight victory Thursday night in a Big East matchup with the visiting Cardinals.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made West Virginia –16.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Thursday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on West Virginia –16.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

West Virginia (7-1, 2-1) opened the season ranked third, but dropped to 13th after a 21-13 road loss to then-No. 18 South Florida on Sept. 28. Since then, though, the Mountaineers have decisive victories over Syracuse, Mississippi State and most recently a 31-3 rout at Rutgers on Oct. 27.

The Mountaineers were idle last weekend, but moved up one spot in the poll. They are second in the conference, 1 1/2 games behind Connecticut, which will be in Morgantown on Nov. 24.

West Virginia is No. 7 in the BCS standings and should end up in a BCS game if it wins its final four contests.

"I think it puts us right where we want to be," said running back Steve Slaton, who rushed for 73 yards and three touchdowns versus Rutgers. "We lost one Big East game and hopefully that'll be the last one we lose."

Louisville (5-4, 2-2), meanwhile, has been one of the nation's biggest disappointments after beginning the year ranked No. 10 and rising as high as eighth before consecutive losses to Kentucky and Syracuse knocked it out of the poll.

The Cardinals are tied for third in the conference, but would need to win their three remaining games and get some help in order to win the Big East.

"We have come up a little short sometimes, but there is nobody that wants to win more than (our) guys," Louisville first-year coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "They've worked hard and they continue to persevere."

Louisville is looking for a second straight victory over West Virginia after a 44-34 home win on Nov. 2, 2006. This series has seen little defense of late with the schools combining for 168 points in the last two meetings.

Trying to stop a West Virginia offense that is third in the nation with 297.9 rushing yards per game will be a major task for the Cardinals, who allow 153.9 yards on the ground and 27.3 points per game.

The Mountaineers rank seventh in the nation, averaging 40.8 points per game, and have put up 41.3 in their last three victories.

Slaton has rushed for 344 yards and six touchdowns on 49 carries in two contests against Louisville. He ran for 188 yards and five touchdowns and also caught a TD pass in West Virginia's 46-44 overtime victory over the Cardinals in Morgantown on Oct. 15, 2005.

Quarterback Pat White, who posted a season-high 156 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries versus Rutgers, ran for 125 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries and threw for 222 yards last season against Louisville.

"The first time you see Pat, you think you have angle and you don't," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He's such an explosive player, there are a lot of times when there are people around him where he outruns the angle or makes people miss."

Last season, West Virginia recorded 540 total yards against Louisville, but lost three fumbles - one of which the Cardinals returned for a touchdown.

Louisville might need to do more than just win the turnover battle for a victory Thursday, but it's coming off a 24-17 victory over Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. It was the fewest points allowed by the Cardinals since a 29-10 win at North Carolina State on Sept. 29.

One-time Heisman Trophy candidate Brian Brohm was 21-for-30 for 236 yards with two touchdowns against Pittsburgh.

Though his team has struggled, the senior quarterback has performed well. Brohm is second in the nation in passing yards (3,229), third in yards per game (358.8) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (26).

He threw for 354 yards and a TD versus West Virginia last season, and has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns in two contests against the Mountaineers.

West Virginia is 6-2 against Louisville, including a 4-1 mark at home. The Cardinals won 9-7 on Sept. 22, 1990 for their lone victory at Morgantown.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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