The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 26, 2011

WVU releases ’11 football slate

MORGANTOWN — The 2011 football season will begin with a bang as the West Virginia University Mountaineers will host in-state rival Marshall and former WVU assistant coach Doc Holliday for the opener on Sept. 3.

The game will begin Bill Stewart’s final season as head coach and will provide the much-anticipated debut of offensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen’s Wild West offense that led the nation last season when he was at Oklahoma State.

A year ago the rivalry, which Marshall has never won, glowed white hot as the Herd scored early but could not hold off quarterback Geno Smith in the fourth quarter and he launched two long touchdown drives in the final 8:30 to force overtime, WVU winning, 24-21, on Tyler Bitancurt’s 20-yard field goal and a miss from 33 yards by Marshall’s Tyler Warner.

The Marshall game is the first of 10 consecutive games played on Saturdays before the Mountaineers play the highlight game of the season with a Friday meeting in Morgantown with Backyard Brawl rival Pitt, now also coached by another former WVU assistant, Todd Graham, who hired a number of former Rich Rodriguez assists in Tony Gibson, Calvin McGee and Tony Dews.

The season ends on the road with WVU traveling to Tampa for a Dec. 1 meeting with South Florida, always a nice place to spend a couple of days as November turns to December.

The non-conference schedule is highlighted by the Marshall game and a home game on Sept. 24 against national power LSU.

The Bayou Bengals won a tight battle against WVU in Baton Rouge last year, the Mountaineers falling 20-14. The difference was provided by LSU All-American Patrick Peterson, who ran a punt back 60 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.

The Mountaineers also have a trip to College Park, Md., to face the Terrapins in the second season since that rivalry was renewed. Last season WVU won easily, 31-17, before the Terps straightened things out and went on to go 9-4, 5-3 in the ACC.

It was not enough, however, to save the job of long-time coach Ralph Friedgen. The Mountaineers will, however, find a familiar face waiting for them at Maryland as Friedgen was replaced by Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, with whom WVU had a few classic games, including last year’s overtime, 16-13, defeat.

Another non-conference game matches the Mountaineers with former coach Don Nehlen’s alma mater Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference on Oct. 1. Bowling Green is coming off a dismal season in which it went just 2-10, winning only one conference game.

The Bowling Green game has been designated homecoming on the WVU campus, while Louisville will be part of Mountaineer Week festivities.

The other non-conference game will be played on Sept. 10 against Norfolk State, a school that last year lost to Rutgers, 31-0, in the opener for both schools. Rutgers’ defense completely smothered Norfolk, holding it to 25 rushing yards and 131 passing yards.

“I believe we have a very attractive and compelling schedule, including a visit from SEC powerhouse LSU,” athletic director Oliver Luck said in the release. “While five of the first six games allows us to play a good portion of the home schedule in the warmer fall weather, it also provides for a very challenging final six games of the season with four road contests. Overall, I believe it’s a schedule that will challenge our football team and our fans will enjoy.”

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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