(To Auburn fans: Thank you for the 50 comments. Unfortunately, my day job would not allow me the time to get back to you. So, this is my one big community reply. Good luck Saturday night.)
If you're from Texas, you need not read on. However, I ask you 'Horns and Raiders to at least enter The Deuce in your remote. During commercial breaks of Texas Tech at Texas, you might want to check in with this one, because West Virginia at Auburn is indeed the game of the week.
A preposterous statement, you say?
Oh, yes. Texas is No. 2 and seeking retribution. Texas Tech wants more of the glory days.
But talk to folks from the hills of Almost Heaven to The Plains, and they'll sell you on the idea. Sell you hard.
And you'll buy it.
When Auburn or West Virginia Have the Ball, the Air and the Ground Will be Rife with Offensive Fireworks
Auburn has two of the nation's leading rushers in Mr. Inside, the strong Ben Tate, and Mr. Outside, the fleet Onterio McCalebb.
West Virginia's quarterback, Jarrett Brown, can and will put the ball in the breeze. Jarrett has receivers and will also take off running at a moment's notice.
Plus, Auburn has a passing game and West Virginia has Noel Devine.
It truly doesn't get much better, and more obvious, than this.
Despite the Offensive Attacks, Defense Is the Name of the Game at Auburn and West Virginia
It is highly unlikely the Tigers or the Mountaineers will pitch a shutout, but whichever stopper unit slows the other guys down better will put its school in the position to win this one. It'll take a full 60 minutes to sort it all out, but in the end the defenses will rule.
In fact, the game's X-factors are on defense. The X for West Virginia is linebacker Reed Williams. He's X because: A) he's playing through the pain of a strained foot, and B) he needs his defensive linemen to tie up the Auburn offensive line so he can roam the field.
If A and B happen, that effectively negates Tate and puts the bull's-eye on McCalebb. Then it will be speed vs. speed. Both teams like that kind of game.
The X-factor for Auburn is the defensive backfield depth. They're playing injured. As well, WVU's receivers' route running and blocking for the big quarterback will certainly keep the Tiger D-backs busy.
If the corners and the safeties can neutralize Alric Arnett, Jock Sanders, and company, West Virginia will be given a look they have not seen this season. That is not a pleasant thought for Mountaineer fans.
If West Virginia's Young Offensive Line Had to Choose One Game to Come of Age, It Better Be This One
Devine is nowhere near the stellar yardage production he should have tallied by now. It makes for great drama when he scrambles, but Brown's protection pocket has been collapsing way too quickly. And that was against FCS Liberty and C-USA East Carolina.
West Virginia needs a balanced offense to win this game. The only way to achieve that is if the O-line dominates.
The Team Whose Special Teams Kicking/Punting/Returning Game Screws Up Less Will Have the Inside Rail to Victory
Gee, I hate to be so negative, but both Auburn and West Virginia have special teams that in total are woefully inadequate.
Too many fans laugh at Ohio State's Jim Tressel for stating that the punt is the most important play of the game of football. As far as the Mountaineers and the Tigers go, the beautiful work of the offenses can be sent to hell in a handbasket if one guy leaves his lane or muffs a punt.
When a foot hits the ball Saturday night, grab the nearest rosary.
West Virginia and Auburn Are Close in the Polls
True, it's the low thirty-somethings, not even the top 25, but writers and coaches alike agree that these two teams are a match.
Auburn Has a Score to Settle
In Morgantown last year, the Tigers blew a 17-3 halftime lead to lose 34-17. Auburn's season continued to slide downhill after that defeat, leading to a coaching staff shakeup. You can bet Gene Chizik doesn't want this one to get away.
A Victory Over Auburn Gives the Mountaineers a Road Win Over a Quality Opponent
After this game, it's winless Colorado and hapless Marshall, and then on to the relatively weak Big East schedule. The computers would like it if West Virginia beats Auburn in case we see another 2007 BCS season jailbreak.
A Victory Over West Virginia Vaults Auburn Toward Its Southeastern Conference Schedule with a Great Deal of Momentum
The spread works better if you think you're invincible. So do all the other offenses Gus Malzahn can imagine.
Auburn Fans Love Their Tigers
I've discovered this week that you're among the best in the FBS, Auburn fans. Seldom are you vile, but you're having fun again, and you deserve the hope this 2009 season brings. You also deserve many victories...after Saturday night, that is.
If the Mountaineers Beat Auburn, It Will be Among the Victories West Virginia Fans Pass on to Their Grandchildren
2009 Auburn will be like 1975 Pittsburgh, the 1981 Peach Bowl over Florida, 1982 Oklahoma, 1984 Boston College, and 1993 Miami, as well as others. The history of West Virginia football glory is definite, albeit sporadic. When it happens, however, it's huge, and it lasts forever.
This contest is so very close, it's almost too bad there has to be a loser. But since that's the case—I'll take a one-point West Virginia win in a high-scoring game.