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College Football's Loser Teams: West Virginia "Keeps a Light On For Ya!"

Omar Clayton, UNLV quarterback, will lead his Rebels into Morgantown to take on West Virginia.
Omar Clayton, UNLV quarterback, will lead his Rebels into Morgantown to take on West Virginia.Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIOctober 8, 2010

Let me go right to the numbers.

West Virginia plays five non-conference games annually.

Typically, the opponent for the first game of the season is from the Football Championship Subdivision. The FCS is chosen out of necessity. There are no college football teams at women's—

Forgive me. Shouldn't have said that. 

The 2010 edition of West Virginia football is a team loaded with talent, yet that talent was squandered on the schools below:

FCS mid-packer Coastal Carolina.

Marshall: Ranked 79th preseason by Rivals.com and 87th in Lindy's preseason magazine. It took a furious comeback for WVU to win in overtime.

Maryland: Rivals.com's 92nd preseason and Lindy's 76th. Went up 28-0, then the Mountaineer defense uncharacteristically gave up two long balls for Terp scores.

LSU: West Virginia was getting somewhere, 15th and 18th, now ranked ninth by the coaches, but WVU gave a winnable game away. That's not good because a victory over LSU after feasting on the aforementioned French crullers was the road to respectability.

Then If you consider the marshmallow softness and gooeyness the Big East Conference has taken on this season then factor in this week's game, you'll see that beating LSU really was all West Virginia had, and they blew it.

 

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The University of Nevada-Las Vegas, UNLV, was founded in 1957. Its enrollment has grown at light speed to around 28,000 students, in part because of the Runnin' Rebels basketball team. 

In 1977, only the school's seventh season, UNLV forward Reggie Theus led a pack of ultra-talented athletes to the Final Four, putting the university on the map. The Rebs fell to North Carolina in the semis.

Towel-chewing head coach Jerry Tarkanian directed 1987 UNLV team to a number one ranking and another Final Four visit, where the Runnin' Rebels lost to eventual champion Indiana.

Finally, in 1990, "Tark the Shark" got it right—the third time was indeed the charm, as UNLV won the National Championship with the quintessential rout of Duke 103-73.

Those were the school's glory days.

As Bruce Springsteen put it: Glory days, they pass you by. Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye.

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From USATODAY.com, I got the info on the UNLV football team that has traveled across the country for the date with West Virginia.

 

No glory here.

The rushing offense is 98th in the nation; the passing offense is ranked 93rd. 

That makes the Rebels greasy meat for a West Virginia defense built on speed and hitting.

The Rebels are 103rd in rushing defense, but have proven to be opportunistic with a 15th ranked takeaway margin of plus 4—Turnovers are the Mountaineers' Achilles' heel. 

Therein lies UNLV's chance to take the Morgantown crowd out of the game and get the Mountaineer's offense off the field.

That is, if UNLV makes it onto the field: 25 Rebels showed up on Tuesday's injury report, including injury-prone quarterback Omar Clayton; Clayton is listed as questionable—that's not good, for Clayton's backup has yet to throw a baker's dozen collegiate passes.

Finally, in the spirit of LSU's Patrick Petersen, UNLV cornerback Will Chandler invades Milan Puskar. Chandler is fourth in the nation in total takeaways with six and is tied at number one for interceptions with four.

The Rebels are 27 point underdogs.

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