West Virginia Mountaineers (5-2, 4-3 ATS) at Connecticut Huskies (3-4, 3-4 ATS), Week 9 College Football, Friday October 29th, 8:00PM Eastern Rentschler Field East Hartford, Connecticut
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: WVU -7/Uconn +7
Over/Under Total: 45
Bet the WVU/Uconn game on the house! Simply open up an account and deposit $125 at Sportsinteraction through our special link and they’ll give you an additional $125 FREE! Sportsinteraction is one of the oldest books on the net and is highly recommended by Predictem! (You can deposit using your checking account too!)
During the first half of the season, the West Virginia Mountaineers have stood out as the class of the Big East with just one out of conference loss to the LSU Tigers. However, the Mountaineers were stunned last week when they were upset at home by Syracuse 19-14. The loss not only knocked West Virginia out of the top 25 but they also suffered a setback in terms of the Big East standings. The Mountaineers had just come off a strong win on Thursday night over South Florida the week prior and now will have to regroup as they will take the national stage again this Friday night in a trip to battle the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field.
Connecticut would not be the ideal team to pull off another upset over West Virginia for the 2nd week in a row. The Huskies are 0-2 in Big East play and just 3-4 on the season. However, the Huskies always play well at home and they have yet to lose a game in their own house this season. One big historical fact standing in their way is that Connecticut has lost 6 straight games to West Virginia since joining the Big East back in 2004. The Huskies will try to rewrite history this Friday night and deliver a huge statement win to the rest of the nation in their attempt to take down the Mountaineers.
So far this season the Huskies main troubles have come on the offensive side of the football. Those troubles were highlighted last week in a 26-0 shutout loss to Louisville in a game where the Huskies only managed 195 total yards throughout the game. The biggest problem has been the inconsistency behind center. Quarterbacks Zach Frazer and Cody Endres have split time behind center but with little effectiveness. Frazer has completed just 51% for 2 touchdowns and 1 picks this season. While Endres numbers were slightly better, he was recently released from team due to breaking the substance abuse policy. Instead of Frazer stepping in, rumors out of East Hartford suggest that Connecticut will turn to 3rd string QB Michael Box. Box has only attempted 5 passes all season as a true freshman and little is known about his capabilities.
However, do not expect the Huskies to come out throwing the football regardless of who ever is behind center. The Huskies main success on offense this season has been on the ground behind running back Jordan Todman. Todman has rushed for 761 yards this season in just 7 games while sporting a very strong 6.2 yards per carry average. Todman along with junior running back Robbie Frey have been very solid this year on the ground. Frey has rushed for 269 yards on very limited carries so expect another big dose of those two talented runners this Friday.
The Mountaineers have also had their own troubles on occasions moving the football. West Virginia offensive troubles were exploited last week in their 19-14 loss over Syracuse. West Virginia ranks outside the top 60 in both passing and rushing while averaging just 363 total yards per game. Despite the low offensive production numbers, the Mountaineers have received very solid play from QB Geno Smith. Smith has completed 65% on the season for 15 scores and just 5 picks. Smith tossed a career high 3 picks in last week’s loss to Syracuse and will try to right the ship this Friday night. Wide outs Tavon Smith and Jock Sanders can both make plays on the outside so keep an eye on those two guys if the Mountaineers go to the air. However, the backbone of the offense rest on the legs of running back Noel Devine. Devine eclipsed the 4,000 yard rushing mark last week and has totaled for 626 yards thus far this season. In this meeting last season, Devine was the big playmaker rushing for 178 yards so I would not be surprised if the Mountaineers give him the chance to set the tone early again this year.
Outside of the West Virginia offense that has had their share of ups and downs; the Mountaineers big strength is the play of their defense. West Virginia sports the 4th best defense in the nation holding opponents to just 245 yards per game. The Mountaineers also own the nation’s 6th best scoring defense allowing just 13.29 points per game. Considering the way Connecticut has struggled to move the ball this season, the Mountaineers defense should be eager to attempt to add to those troubles Friday night. If the defense comes out fired up like I expect, I believe the Huskies could be in for a long night on offense and they will have a lot of trouble posting points on the board. For that reason, I am backing West Virginia and the points in this one while expecting a blowout.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: West Virginia -7.