West Virginia and South Florida: Too Close To Call

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIOctober 28, 2009

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Jarrett Brown #16 of the West Virginia Mountaineers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Even with South Florida is in the midst of its annual midseason swoon, the Bulls are never gracious hosts to West Virginia.

Mountaineer fans everywhere have to realize that any team that can travel to Tallahassee and take Florida State down has to be respected more than many others. 

It's this. Bill Stewart respects all and fears none.  Well, fear this, Stew, because the road to the Big East championship and the BCS bowl bid goes through Raymond James.

A little bit of trepidation and apprehension never hurt anyone.

Reminds me of the innate fight or flight syndrome. Now, you'll never see a Bill Stewart team back down from a challenge. I say West Virginia will fight. And will it ever be one.

South Florida matches up with the Mountaineers speed versus speed, even better than Auburn. 

Jarrett Brown (pictured) will not have much time to make a decision with Bulls' George Selvie bearing down from the outside. And with George's running--or sacking--buddy Jason Pierre-Paul blowing smoke, the West Virginia offensive line will have to play a stellar game.

Worse still, power running back Ryan Clarke and tight end Tyler Urban may have to support pass blocking, taking options away from the offense. Jarrett's scrambles will not be as effective, putting stress on the passing game and plugging up the run.

That lays it all on the Mountaineer defense.

And, they got 'em where they want 'em.

South Florida's quarterback BJ Daniels can put in the breeze with this year's best of them. He faces a West Virginia pass D that's not strong in relation to the Mountaineers' ninth-ranked run D.

To account for this, the pass defense will be bolstered by a blitzing rush. Stewart likes to sign off on sending six. The linebackers and corners do that well, plus the safeties' coverage is enough to slow down any surprises.

In other words, the Mounties can win this dog fight.

It'll be interesting, though. In addition to notable road wins such as this year's Florida State and 2007 Auburn, South Florida is 21-6 on their home field since signing up with the Big East.

To make it even more interesting, consider the question posed by Mike Casazza, a sportswriter for the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail. Are the Mountaineers lucky or just plain good, he asks.

Well, the writer impels me to ask: Is a team good enough to overcome all those turnovers, or lucky enough to watch half of opponents' field goal attempts go wide? 

Or both?

I say the point is moot, because as the old adage goes, I'd rather be lucky than good.

If you don't have a son, grandson, or a nephew bright under the Friday night lights, watch West Virginia at South Florida on ESPN2. You're lucky.  We're in for a good one.