The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 1, 2009

Much to play for

Important game with Rutgers looms

MORGANTOWN — Last weekend West Virginia played a game filled with emotion built out of a long and storied rivalry, edging Pittsburgh, 19-16, in the Backyard Brawl.

This weekend the Mountaineers play a game that requires just as much emotion, maybe even more as it is on the road, against a team with which it has a long and not-so-storied rivalry, Rutgers.

You have to go all the way back to 1916 for the first game, a game in which the teams set football back another hundred years as they played to a 0-0 tie. It has been a terribly one-sided rivalry, West Virginia having won 30, lost only 4 and tied two games — the first two, following that 0-0 game with another 7-7 borathon.

In recent days, however, WVU has beaten Rutgers like a red-headed stepchild, no offense meant for either red-heads or stepchildren. The Mountaineers have won the last 14 games in a row, outscoring Rutgers by an outlandish 372 points, and have never lost a Big East game to Rutgers.

Included in the mix was a 40-0 victory in 2002, an 80-7 (there is no typo there, WVU did score 80 points against Rutgers as one of its three victories that year) the previous year, 52-16 in 1999, 48-0 in 1997, 55-14 in 1996 and 59-33 in 1993.

Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano is aware of the history, all too well aware for he was in his first season when Rich Rodriguez beat him, 80-7, and did so without trying to run up the score.

Schiano, however, isn’t into reading history. He’s into making it and he can turn what at first appeared to be a disappointing 2009 season into a huge success with a victory at home over WVU on ESPN at noon Saturday.

“It’s more about 2009 than all those games previously played,” Schiano said Monday during the Big East Conference coaches’ call. “We need to win this game for a lot of reasons, but the past isn’t one of them.”

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Bob Herzel
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