WVU 31, Rutgers 3: Remember the Mountaineers?

Frank AhrensSenior Writer IOctober 29, 2007

Just your basic statement-making, all-three-phases-dominating, start-to-finish victory for the Mountaineers.
It’s pretty funny: Fans and media types are so attracted to bright shiny objects, you might have forgotten that WVU was still a factor in the Big East or national championship picture after the Sept. 28th loss at South Florida.

But we’ll get to say we told you so later.
First, how the carnage played out:
1. 4:33 first quarter

Steve Slaton pulls a Marcus Allen (or a Steve Slaton vs. Maryland in 2006), taking the handoff at the 38-yard-line and heading left, finding no room, then backtracking right, juking while heading downhill (that’s Slaton circa 2007), riding his blockers, and flying into the corner of the end zone.

Easily his best run of the season.
2. 9:00 second quarter

Following a Mortty Ivy recovery of a WVU punt that hit a Rutgers guy in the back, Pat White pokes through from the one-yard-line, drops the ball just before breaking the plane, but falls on it in the end zone.

The drive was all White on the ground.
3. No time remaining second quarter

Pat McAfee nails a 42-yard field goal.
4. 3:59 third quarter

Slaton walks around left end untouched from one yard out. The highlight of this drive was a 51-yard-screen pass to Slaton from White, who had to rope in a high shotgun snap.

(C’MON, Dent—the center also snapped one clear over White’s head and had several other misfires.)

Slaton was sprung on the screen by an out-of-nowhere block from Ryan Stanchek, who made the Rutgers defender disappear into the boggy Piscataway turf like Tony Soprano eliminating a problem.

5. 8:12 fourth quarter

Slaton runs in untouched through left tackle from the six-yard-line.

This drive started with a pretty Boogie Allen interception at the WVU 32, and included a fairly amazing 51-yard White run that saw him pull almost to a stop in front of a Rutgers defender before leaving him in the dust.
Now, to the I-told-you-so section...

Take away the South Florida loss—and I’m not arguing you do in the overall analysis; it was a sloppy loss and WVU deserved it—and WVU has beaten opponents by an average score of 45-14.

That’s dominance.
What WVU has lacked has been a quality road win over a quality road opponent, which it finally collected Saturday.

Prior to Saturday’s win, WVU had gone 6-1 through a first half of the season that featured only three home games.

As the national results bear out, it’s harder and harder to win on the road against a reasonably competitive team (see LSU at Kentucky).
In other words: WVU has performed respectably through a road-heavy first half.
The book on the Mountaineers from the media is “WVU is back”—but the truth is they never went away. The team instantly righted itself after a bad road loss and picked right up where it left off—by crushing all comers.
As for Slaton and White—it’s funny how a pair of juniors can become old news so quickly, despite consistent dazzling performances.

It’s all about the New Thing: Tebow, Woodson, Ryan, whoever.
But White and Slaton never let up. And it was great to see Slaton have a terrific game on national TV against Rutgers, because he was starting to get a comes-up-small-in-big-games rap (Louisville last year, South Florida this year).
Scanning the reports of the game, they read pretty much like this: Ray Rice got his yards, but Slaton got the touchdowns.

And Rice, as fabulous as he is, didn't have an electrifying reverse-field run or a speedy screen-pass catch.
So there.


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