WVU-UConn: Mountaineers, Huskies to Square Off for Share of Big East Lead

Michael CarvelliContributor IOctober 29, 2008

The Big East Network Game of the Week at noon on Saturday, Nov. 1 is between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Connecticut Huskies as they fight for sole possession of first place in the Big East Conference.

The Mountaineers are currently atop the Big East Conference, with a 2-0 record after winning their fourth straight game, 34-17, over the Auburn Tigers last Thursday.  Their season record is 5-2.

The Huskies, with a record of 6-2 and 2-1 in the Big East, are fresh off a 40-16 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats.  They will want to avenge last season's 66-21 loss at the hands of Pat White and company in Morgantown.

This year's matchup will be at Rentschler Field where the Huskies have won 11 straight games.  The Mountaineers, however, have been defeated in this year's two road games.

Connecticut will be led by junior Donald Brown, the nation's leading rusher.

Regarding Brown, West Virginia's head coach, Bill Stewart said, "We’re going to face the best running back in our league.  He has close to 1,400 yards in eight games," Stewart said. "Are you kidding me? We better be ready." 

Brown has run the ball 235 times for 1,324 yards this season and has reached the end zone 14 times.

“He is just tough and relentless,” said West Virginia safety Sidney Glover. “He is physical the way he is stiff-arming people right now. It’s just another challenge for us on Saturday to hold him down and that’s what we’re working on.”

The Mountaineers have been running the ball well the past few games. Sophomore Noel Devine has 849 yards this season and has run for 100 yards or more in four games, including a career-high 207-yard performance over Auburn. 

On Thursday night West Virginia proved that quarterback Pat White can pass the ball a little bit, too.

"We were on and Pat was on," Stewart said. "We threw the ball to Wes Lyons, he threw the crossing routes, and he really only made one bad throw—the throw to Dorrell Jalloh when he threw behind him—but it was the same play Dorrell scored on."

White's three touchdowns against the Tigers gave him 12 for the year and he is now just two away from tying his career-high of 14, which he threw last season.

Junior Alric Arnett of West Virginia hauled in a 44 yard touchdown last week for his third of the season and Dorrell Jalloh caught two of White's passes for scores.

"We’re clicking." Arnett said. "The game plan has pretty much been the same. We are going to throw the ball and run the ball. It’s just that we came out and we executed and everyone did their job."

The Mountaineer offense will need to do just that on Saturday, as they will be going up against a Huskies defense that ranks in the top two in the Big East in numerous defensive categories, including scoring defense, total defense, pass efficiency defense, interceptions, sacks, fourth-down defense, and red-zone defense.

West Virginia will take the field with a defense that has seemed to improve since the beginning of the season. Against the Tigers, the Mountaineer defense gave up 260 yards of total offense, but really put the clamps on the offense in the second half.

"I wouldn’t say that all of our kinks are worked out but we were up for the Thursday night game," sophomore linebacker JT Thomas said. "A lot of guys were ready to play but that is in the past. We have to get ready to go up to UConn and have a good outing."