West Virginia takes on Connecticut in a Big East Friday night kickoff. Both teams could use the win as they continue to jockey for Big East positioning. The Mountaineers (5-2) are only a game away from expected bowl-eligibility while UCONN, picked by some in the pre-season to win the Big East, are in the midst of a disappointing campaign and lie at 3-4 overall. On the face of it, it could be difficult for a UCONN offense that has struggled all season going up against a West Virginia defense that is one of the best in the country. Nor should the host Huskies be aided by the fact that their confidence levels could be extremely low following consecutive Big East road losses to Rutgers and Louisville. The Louisville game was extremely difficult for Husky fans to accept given the fact they could only muster 195 yards against a Louisville team that had yet to have BCS-conference win under its belt. West Virginia comes into the game off of a stunning home loss to Syracuse (19-14) where Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith turned the ball over three times, all on interceptions. Both teams come in off of a rough game last week so it should be interesting to see how a bit of confidence can get a team going.
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The visiting Mountaineers are the clear favorite here. Sure, they had a bad, bad game last week with three turnovers and a fumble (which they recovered). That isn’t West Virginia football—at least, it usually isn’t West Virginia football. But, the Mountaineers haven’t had the kind of offensive pop they usually do this season and it is evident in their offensive statistics. WVU is 73rd (142.9) in rushing and 70th (363.1) in total offense. Those aren’t the kind of statistics Mountaineer fans have been accustomed to in the Rodriguez and Stewart eras. Statistics aside, it does look good for the Mountaineers. Dating back to 2004, West Virginia is 6-0 against Connecticut and has outscored the Huskies 242-101. With that reason, West Virginia fans should feel quite confident.
Connecticut is in a bit of shambles. A few pundits had picked the Huskies to win the Big East. To now, the Huskies have routed Texas Southern, Buffalo and had a very good outing against Vanderbilt, which resulted in a 40-21 win. But, they started the season off with a 30-10 drubbing at the hands of Michigan, lost at Temple and struggled in their most recent outings: road losses to conference foes Rutgers and Louisville. What will happen Friday night? It’s hard to predict but a fragile confidence level could play a big part. It’s been reflective in their box scores: The Huskies had a very good second quarter two weeks ago to Rutgers where they scored 17 points and held a commanding lead. They didn’t score in the second half and gave up 10 points late to the host Scarlet Knights and lost. Then, they laid an egg last week versus Louisville and got waxed 27-0. They’ve gone six consecutive quarters without a point. While it’s probably right to expect them to score at some point against West Virginia. Can the Huskies get enough going on offense against a West Virginia defense that is in the top 15, if not top 10, in a multitude of defensive statistics categories.
West Virginia vs. Connecticut Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
West Virginia -5.5
@ Connecticut +5.5
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West Virginia vs. Connecticut State Prediction for Week 9:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) –There is too much going against the Huskies to back them in this important Big East matchup. The Mountaineers, with an explosive running back like Noel Devine, have the kind of player who can break open the game for an offense that has been sputtering as of late. The Huskies’ offense has been anemic for parts of the season and the fact they haven’t scored in six quarters is alarming. We don’t expect them to have a complete reverse of fortune against a defense as stout and talented as the Mounties. We’ll go with the visitors here.
Game Total Prediction – Every bettor hates those games where two teams with offenses that aren’t clicking go off on each other and score a bunch of points and total a bunch of yardage. While, statistically, this could be that kind of game— it’s just too hard to see. West Virginia’s defense is too good to give up more than 30 points to Connecticut and the West Virginia offense hasn’t been good enough to prove they could score 30 on UCONN. We’re just using 30 points as a guess but the game should be far, far less scoring. We’ll assume neither team really gets it going on offense and that the under comes in lower than 46.
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