LOUISVILLE KY - NOVEMBER 20: Justin Burke #13 of the Louisville Cardinals is sacked by Bruce Irvin #11 of the West Virginia Mountaineers during the game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on November 20 2010 in Louisville Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

West Virginia Vs. Louisville: Mountaineer Defense Keeps Cardinals At Bay, 17-10

West Virginia hopes to keep their Big East title hopes alive with a win at Louisville's Papa John's Stadium.

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Week 12 BCS Update: Pitt, WVU, UConn Vy For Big East Berth

CBSSports.com projects that after all the trouble WVU has had this year, the Mountaineers could win a BCS berth by rising to the top in the Big East.

The Big 12 champion automatically goes to the Fiesta Bowl, so the way I see it playing out is Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma and then knocks off Nebraska in the in the Big 12 title game and lands here. The Fiesta Bowl gets the last at-large pick, so expect the Big East champion here. Take your choice — Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut, South Florida? Let’s say West Virginia, which should beat Pittsburgh next week.

We’ll see. Pitt is the only team in the Big East that controls its own destiny, and could squash West Virginia’s hopes with a win in the Backyard Brawl. And West Virginia’s path to the BCS is complicated by Connecticut, which won over Syracuse yesterday. The Huskies are currently tied with WVU at 3-2 in conference play, but if UConn wins out against Cincinnati and South Florida and WVU wins out as well, the Huskies would win the BCS berth (given that one of WVU’s wins would be against Pitt, and UConn wins all tiebreakers by beating both WVU and Pitt). So at this point, the Mountaineers need to win out against Pitt and Rutgers and hope for a loss by Connecticut. All told, it doesn’t look likely WVU will clinch a BCS berth, but it’s certainly still possible, and the path to the BCS begins by beating Pitt.

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Week 11, NCAA Football Standings, Big East Conference

The hunt for the BCS bid in the Big East conference got much clearer today, and it's reverted to a three team race.  With two weeks left in the season, Pittsburgh is in the driver's seat while only Connecticut and West Virginia can catch them.  Right now as it stands in the conference, the standings look like this:

1. Pittsburgh                           4-1          6-4

The Panthers control their own destiny in the Big East.  Win out against West Virginia and Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will represent the Big East in the BCS.

 

2. Connecticut                        3-2          6-4

Connecticut can win the conference if they win out, and get some help from West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl.  A three-way tie benefits the Huskies because they hold wins against both the Panthers and the Mountaineers.

3. West Virginia                     3-2          7-3

West Virginia is still alive for the conference title if they can win the Backyard Brawl this Friday in Pittsburgh, and Connecticut loses one of its final two games.

4. Syracuse                              4-3          7-4

Syracuse was eliminated from the title picture today, but they have to be happy to going to their first bowl game since 2004.

5. South Florida                     3-3          6-4

Also eliminated from the hunt today, Skip Holtz has the Bulls bowl-eligible in his first year in Tampa.

6. Louisville                              2-4          5-6

It's been a long season for Charlie Strong's troops, but most of the Cardinals' losses have been hope, so there is hope in Louisville that the program is headed back in the right direction.

7. Cincinnati                            2-3          4-6

Butch Jones got his quarterback and his offense back today, but it's too little too late to help the Bearcats this season.

8. Rutgers                                                1-4          4-6

Rutgers Football forever remains, Rutgers Football.

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College Football Scores, Big East, Week 11

Pittsburgh 17, South Florida 10 - The Panthers stay ahead of the pack with a win on the road against the South Florida Bulls.  Running back Dion Lewis led the way for the Panthers rushing for 105 yard, 22 of which came on the game-deciding touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter.  Terrence Mitchell had tied the game for the Bulls with a 45-yard touchdown run earlier in the second half.

West Virginia 17, Louisville 10 - West Virginia picked up a much needed road win to keep the Mountaineers still mathmatically alive in the chase for the conference crown.  The game was a defensive grudgematch, with Louisville's only touchdown coming off of a Geno Smith sack and fumble.  Noel Devine paced the sluggish Mountaineer offense with 119 total yards and a 2-yard touchdown run.

Connecticut  23, Syracuse 6 - The UConn Huskies kept their title hopes alive dispatching the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome.  UConn running back Jordan Todman was the deciding factor in the Huskies controling the tempo of the game.  Todman scored twice while racking up 130 yards on 27 carries. This marks the last conference game for Orange who are now eliminated from winning the Big East's BCS birth.

Cincinnati 69, Rutgers 38  - The Bearcats bounced back from a road loss last weekend at West Virginia to manhandle the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.  Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros returned to the field in a big way torching the Scarlet Knight defense to the tune of 4 passing touchdowns and another one on the ground.  Running back Isiah Pead went for 193 yards on the ground and tallied four rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.

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West Virginia Vs. Louisville: WVU Outlasts Louisville, 17-10

  • Najee Good drops a surefire pick-six on the half's first play.  That's the second interception the Mountaineer D has failed to haul in this afternoon.  Those can be the little things that make the difference between winning and losing.
  • Drops are becoming an issue for the offense too.  Ivan McCartney drops a touchdown when he can't control the ball all the way to the ground. Admittedly it was a high degree of difficulty type of catch, but it would've been nice to get six, instead of settling for a Tyler Bitancurt field goal.  Either way, it's good to start the second half by getting more points.  This is a points game, after all. 'Eers extend lead to seven.
  • Eain Smith comes free and sacks Burke.  A prettier sack you'll never see.
  • Defense is controlling this game, on both sides.  The Mountaineers and Cardinals have just been trading punts for the bulk of the third quarter.  This game's being played slow and dirty and WVU has no answer for the Louisville defensive front.  The line can't open holes, and can't keep black jerseys off of Geno.  For the Cards, they can't create anything on their end as WVU's linebackers and secondary are flying around the field and making stop after stop.
  • It's boring, but WVU's still leads.  However, Louisville could tie this up in an instant.  The Mountaineers must play with focus.
  • After a nice run by Ryan Clarke the Mountaineer offense looked like it was moving.  Instead, it ground immediately to a halt.  Another punt.  Twelve minutes left.  WVU's Defense has looked tough, and they're going to have finish out this one for the Offense, because it doesn't look like this lead is getting any bigger.
  • Uh-oh. A bigg completion goes for the Cardinals from Justin Burke to Cameron Graham.  The D needs to stiffen and repel this brief drive.  Graham comes up injured after another completion, right now he and Burke are all the Louisville offense can get going, so it could be a big loss for the Cards if he can't return.
  • The Mountaineers give the ball back to the Cardinals over and over and over... if they lose, this will be why.
  • Cards only down seven, they quickly move it to midfield.  Now going for it on fourth down.... and they can't pick it up.  The Mountaineer offense will get one more shot to put some points on the board, or at the very least kill the clock.
  • Nice run by Shawne Alston.  Picks up a first down, which means more clock.  Alston could be the back of the future.  He's looked good in the last two games.
  • Bitancurt misses a field goal that could have iced the game.  Louisville still alive.... until Keith Tandy makes a pick, and seals the game.

West Virginia got a win it absolutely needed to have.  Right now WVU has to hope that Syracuse gets beaten by UConn and UConn loses one of it's last two games.  If that happens, and the 'Eers can win next Friday's Backyard Brawl then this team could stumble into a BCS Bowl game. It seems improbable, and it definitely is, but it doesn't mean it's not possible.

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West Virginia Vs. Louisville: West Virginia Leads 14-10 At The Half

  • Louisville shocks everybody and fakes a punt.  Of course, Mountaineer special teams are burned for 21 yards.  A great call from Strong though.  From the standpoint of Louisville, you've gotta go for broke.
  • WVU had a chance to negate the momentum, but Keith Tandy dropped an easy interception.  I guess that's why he's a defensive back.
  • Geno Smith is sacked, fumbles, and the Cardinal D recovers in the endzone.  Cardinals now lead 10-7.  West Virginia just can't keep playing as sloppily as they have been.  A turnover has just cost them the lead, and any more could cost them the game.  The line has to block somebody.  Anybody.  But stop them.  Right now they're not getting anybody.
  • JD Woods makes a big catch across midfield.  An impressive spinning grab a ball thrown behind him.  The offense moves in weird spurts.  They need to pick up some sort of rhythm.
  • Geno connects with Noel Devine on a looooong wheel route, picking up forty eight yards.  Noel spent the last five yards dragging defenders and for a moment looked like he'd carry them into the endzone.  Ryan Clarke came in and finished the job.  The Mountaineers regain the lead.  They have to keep throwing the ball, but they have to protect Geno to do it.  Ahhhh, there's the rub.
  • Bruce Irvin picks up his ninth sack.  Nice to see a Mountaineer pressuring the quarterback, and not vice-versa.
  • Punts and penalties burn the rest of the time from the second quarter, Mountaineers head to the locker room in the lead, and should be grateful to have it.  They will need more points in the second half, because this one's not over.
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West Virginia Vs. Louisville: Mountaineers Out To Early 7-3 Lead

Here we go folks.  There's no more room for error for this football team.  Away we go....

  • Mountaineers go three-and-out on their first possession.  One run from Devine, an incomplete pass, and another frustrating play from Starks on third down where he runs just too short of route.  That's either mental error, or a by-product of Geno Smith being draped in defenders each time he drops back to pass.
  • On Louisville's first possession, they drove down the field mainly by throwing the ball and exposing some of the Mountaineer secondary.  When they neared the redzone they switched to running plays and we stymied.  The Cards settle for a field goal.
  • After a rough start, the Mountaineer offense is finally driving.  A pair of long passes to Tavon Austin and JD Woods put WVU on the move, Geno was pressured on both, but he stood tall and got the ball out.
  • 'Eers switch to the ground game, but it takes a short catch and run from Jock to give the 'Eers first and goal from the 2...
  • Where Devine slices it home for a score!  He looks better, and carried it six times on the drive for 22 yards.  Not eye-popping numbers, but he had three important carries to push it into the redzone, and then the endzone.  WVU up, 7-3.
  • The D comes up big and forces a three and out.  The Cardinals were successful on two short pass plays, but Anthony Leonard came up big stuffing Powell in the backfield to force the punt.
  • Just when you thought things were going good.... a great return from Hogan gets wiped out by an unnecessary roughness penalty. The definition of unnecessary.
  • After picking up a first down the drive was sunk by a big sack.  It seems like right now, if you send one extra guy at the Mountaineer line, from anywhere, that guy's getting in the backfield.
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West Virginia Vs. Louisville: Mountaineers Hope To Build Momementum Towards Next Week's Backyard Brawl

I know recently, for me at least, it's been easy to kid ourselves and think that it's basketball season already.  It's not, and the WVU football team still has three key matchups left on the schedule.  Shockingly enough, the Big East title could still end up in Morgantown if the 'Eers can win out and get some help from some others in the conference. 

Last weekend, WVU dispatched the Cincinnatti Bearcats with ease, and it seemed like all was right again in the House of Stewart.  Today, versus the Louisville Cardinals, the Mountaineers need to build on that momentum and continue to do the things they did well last week.  That means turning Geno Smith loose to throw the football, and keep throwing.  We may be at the point in the season where each team knows who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to best utilize them.  I hope the Mountaineers understand that that means moving the ball in the air and playing stout defense.  At this point, I'm not convinced that the offensive line can knock people off of their blocks enough to spring the Mountaineer running backs, so I think if the coaches let Geno throw quick short pass routes then that weakness won't be completely exposed.

Louisville, under new head coach Charlie Strong, is a team on the rise.  The Kragthorpe era at Louisville was absolutely dreadful, and what was a national program under Bobby Petrino had faded away into obscurity.  When Strong got to campus this year, Louisville stormed back.  The Cardinals are led by dynamic senior running back Bilal Powell.  Anthony Leonard and the rest of the Mountaineer linebackers will have their hands full trying to keep the Louisville run-game in check.  Luckily for fans of the gold n' blue, stopping the run has been one of their strong suits this season.  If the WVU D can control the game, it should be a long afternoon for the Louisville offense.

I expect this game to be tight throughout.  Louisville hasn't been blown away by anyone this season, and this Cardinal team is just a few plays away from having a much better record than the 5-5 they currently possess.  As for the Mountaineers, I would like to think that all of their offensive woes were healed and forgotten last week, but we all know how unlikely that is.  The best case scenario for the 'Eers is to score early and build enough of a lead to let the defense take control of the tempo of the game.  If that doesn't happen, and the Cardinals are allowed to hang around, then this one could go either way.

Check back mid-game for updates and as always..... Let's Go Mountaineers!

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