The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

October 25, 2011

WVU, Rutgers looking for answers

MORGANTOWN — If you listen to Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano, when West Virginia travels to face the Scarlet Knights at 3:30 p.m. Saturday it will be for the Big East championship — sort of.

“We don’t have a championship game at the end of the year. You are playing a championship game every week,” Schiano said, not only on the Big East conference call but also on his own press conference call with the Rutgers media.

In some ways he has a point.

“Some years 5-2 wins league. Who knows what it will be this year?” he said.

Right now only Cincinnati’s record is unblemished, WVU having fallen hard at Syracuse, 49-23, in a game in which they were pushed around badly.

That one loss does, in a way, mean that every game from here on out is a championship game because two losses probably won’t get it this year. Rutgers, for example, has one loss like WVU and would have a tiebreaker with the Mountaineers in its pocket if it were to beat WVU.

It seems somewhat absurd at this point in the season for a game to carry so much meaning, especially a game between WVU and Rutgers, for the Mountaineers have dominated Rutgers over the years. WVU has won 32, lost four and tied two against Rutgers all-time and is 18-2 against the Scarlet Knights in the Big East.

It doesn’t seem to matter who is coaching whom, it doesn’t change and Schiano doesn’t really have an answer for that.

“I don’t know. I mean, they’ve been one of the best teams in the league throughout that time, at least in the new Big East, so — but I don’t know why,” he said when asked about it.

Mostly it has to do with talent. WVU has, over the years, been better than Rutgers, but even when WVU was at its worst, in 2001, Rich Rodriguez’s first season in which he went 3-8, the Mountaineers beat Schiano and Rutgers, 80-7.

It’s like it almost is a West Virginia birthright, this beating Rutgers, but now things are really confused.

First you have the conference situation, where Rutgers has been passed over by the ACC to this point, WVU looks to be headed for the Big 12, and no one knows what is ahead in the future.

Then there is the fact that WVU was looked upon as the class of the Big East, certainly figured to win at Syracuse, which made this game into something it wasn’t supposed to be.

Complicating matters more, Rutgers looked like it might be a pretty good team and it went to Louisville last week and lost 16-14, a terribly disappointing setback.

“It was a very disappointing result in Louisville,” Schiano said. “They played good; we didn’t play very well. We had an opportunity at the end of the game and were unable to move the ball down the field and kick a field goal.

“We have to bounce back and there’s no time to lick our wounds because we have got a good West Virginia team coming to town, I imagine a very angry West Virginia team.”

Angry would be a nice reaction from a team that didn’t seem to have much emotion while Syracuse was beating the blue pants off them.

And now the situation isn’t much different.

“Same type situation,” Coach Dana Holgorsen noted during the Big East call. “We have to go on the road against a well-coached team with a good atmosphere. It will be a challenge. We need to find a way to do a little better job this week.”

What’s interesting is that both Rutgers and West Virginia lost on the road when the home team found a way to take away its strength. Rutgers was known for its pass rush and never got to the quarterback, while WVU was known for its passing game but a severe Syracuse pass rush destroyed the hopes of that bringing about a victory.

What it does do, though, is make you wonder if Rutgers might not find its pass rush again against a WVU team that didn’t protect Geno Smith very much.

“Syracuse blitzed 75 percent of the time, more than I’ve ever been part of,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t handle it for a variety of reasons. Geno wasn’t seeing some things, the receivers didn’t sight adjust. When they were bringing five guys our guys didn’t hold up in pass protection.

“Rutgers will pressure us and we have to handle it better. After a week of practice we will probably be able to handle it a little better.”

If WVU can correct what was wrong and handle the road setting, they won’t win the Big East championship on this Saturday, but they will at least be able to play another championship game the following week ... and another ... and maybe another.

That’s how it is in the Big East.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • WVU athletic department to form Fan Experience Committee

    The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is forming a fan experience committee to discuss the needs of Mountaineer fans with the hopes of enhancing the fan experience at its events.

    April 22, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a long-time baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos