Coach Bill Stewart is expecting what he calls an interesting football match-up with visiting Auburn (4-3) for his West Virginia team (4-2) on Thursday at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium.

“I hope we can hang in there with them and their physical style of play,” he said on Monday. “I know they have great speed. So we look for one heck of a good football game.”

A capacity crowd of about 60,000 is expected for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. ESPN will televise the action nationally.

Stewart cited some similarities of the two teams that will be meeting for the first time.

“They have had some troubles at quarterback like we’ve had,” he started. “They’ve kinda stumbled at times as we’ve kinda stumbled at times. But they have a pretty good football team, which I hope we still do.

“Auburn is a running team, like we’ve been in the past. They have tremendous receivers. They haven’t jelled on all cylinders, offensively, as we haven’t. Defensively, they fly around good. And their special teams are really, really good.”

Stewart said he would not be shocked to see a defensive-dominated, low-scoring contest. “Their defense plays pretty darn well; again, much like our defense,” he continued.

He noted that the Tigers ‘ three losses came by a combined difference of just nine points. Those were to No. 6-ranked LSU 26-21, No. 19 Vanderbilt 14-13 and Arkansas 25-22. The score of their touchdown-less victory at Mississippi State was 3-2.

“They’re still the Auburn Tigers, though, and they’re very dangerous,” Stewart stressed. “I think it’s going to be a hard-hitting defensive game. Field position will be vital, with special teams having a part in it.”

According to him, Robert Dunn has run back punts for touchdowns and that Tristan Davis is a dangerous kick returner. WVU is expecting Kodi Burns to take over as Auburn’s starting quarterback for this game.

Patrick White, who missed the 17-6 win over Syracuse on Oct. 11 because of injury, has been practicing very well and is ready to go. The outstanding senior is an Alabama native and admittedly looking forward to playing against Auburn.

“It looks to me like Patrick is (operating) on all cylinders right now and, hopefully, we can keep him there,” Stewart said. “He’s going to be fine. I was really pleased to see that.”

Jarrett Brown, White’s backup, has recovered from a bruised shoulder and performing well at both quarterback and slot receiver in practice.

Stewart said he’s looking for sophomore Bradley Starks, the No. 3 signal-caller, to step up and make some plays from a receiver position.

Meantime, Pat Liebig is ready for a return to action on the defensive line after having missed three games with a leg injury. He won’t start Thursday night, but he will play, Stewart said.

“Auburn is probably feeling like we’re feeling,” he concluded. “The Tigers are looking for a win and we are looking for a win. If this game is to be a measuring stick, then I feel we’ll be all right.”

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