West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-5 SU, 4-6-1 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, December 5, 2009, Rutgers Stadium, Piscataway, N.J. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: West Virginia +1/Rutgers -1
While Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are facing off for the Big East title, West Virginia and Rutgers will serve as the undercard to determine third place in the conference standings.
West Virginia is coming off its biggest win of the season, a 19-16 win over Pittsburgh to give the Panthers their first conference loss. Tyler Bitancurt kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired and the Mountaineers celebrated at home.
Rutgers was rolling with three straight wins, including a 31-0 win over South Florida. But the Scarlet Knights apparently were a bit overconfident, as they were handled by Syracuse, 31-13. Last week, they bounced back with a 34-14 win at Louisville, and now the Scarlet Knights will try to end their regular season on a high note by winning a home game over West Virginia.
West Virginia won this game last year 24-17 in Morgantown. Both defenses really limited the opposing offenses. Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel really struggled, going 14-for-32 for 170 yards and a touchdown. WVU QB Pat White was 12-for-17 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. The Mountaineers totaled 172 rushing yards and that proved to be the difference, as Rutgers only had 72 rushing yards.
West Virginia has a very good pass defense. The Mountaineers did a nice job the last two weeks against Pitt QB Bill Stull and Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros. They intercepted Stull twice last week and he was only able to complete 16 of his 30 pass attempts. Rutgers freshman QB Tom Savage, who has 1,764 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 54.5 completion percentage, will have to make smart throws and take whatever short yardage he can get. He won’t be able to afford to make risky throws because the Mountaineers defensive backs will capitalize and intercept the ball. Joe Martinek will have to run the ball very well to maintain the Rutgers offense and make it easier for Savage to move the ball down the field.
West Virginia relies heavily on the running success of Noel Devine,
who has 1,232 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Rutgers has a strong defense
and will be focused on shutting down Devine. The Mountaineers offensive
line has to dominate the Rutgers defensive line and create some holes for
Devine. Just like the case with Rutgers, if Devine can run the ball well
Jarrett Brown will be able to complete some passes and
move the chains.
Rutgers is 4-1 ATS in its last five games. The Scarlet Knights are 10-2 SU in their last 12 home games, and four of their last six games have gone under. West Virginia is 2-4 ATS in its last six games and five of its last seven games have gone under. The Mountaineers are also 2-4 ATS in their last six road games.
Ryno’s Pick: West Virginia has to run the ball to win this game. The Rutgers defense is way too strong to allow Brown to pick it apart. Brown isn’t going to do much at all unless Devine can dominate. It’s unlikely he will be able to dominate against this defense but if he can at least get over 100 yards, West Virginia has a good chance to win the game if it doesn’t turn the ball over. Savage is going to struggle against this pass defense. Stull and Collaros struggled, so it’s hard to foresee Savage doing well against the same pass defense. The key for Rutgers on both sides of the ball will be the running game. Martinek has to get over 100 yards for Rutgers to win this game, and the Scarlet Knights have to try to hold Devine to less than 100 yards. Whichever teams runs for more yards will likely win this game. That being said, Devine is the much better running back, so the Mountaineers will win this game on the road. Rutgers really only has one quality win this season – that 31-0 win over South Florida – and West Virginia is riding the momentum from its big win over Pitt last week. Take West Virginia +1.