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West Virginia Vs. Cincinnati: Mountaineers' Season On The Line On The Road Against The Bearcats

West Virginia hopes to get back into the hunt for the Big East crown against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Who: Cincinnati Bearcats

When: Noon, Saturday November 12, 2011

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati OH

What to Watch For When The ‘Eers Have the Ball: Primarily, it’s important to see WVU play with some sense of urgency and energy.  Both of those were lacking in last week’s Louisville contest and it cost the Mountaineers the game.  This time, unfortunately for WVU fans, the ‘Eers face a much stouter defensive unit that has been holding opponents to under twenty points per contest.  Geno Smith will need to act decisively in the pocket and the Mountaineers will have to get better on third down or this could be the last Mountaineer game this season that matters.

What to Watch For When The Bearcats Have the Ball: Zach Collaros, mostly to see if WVU can manage to get anyone in his face.  West Virginia’s defensive unit has struggled mightily once the ‘Eers entered Big East play.  WVU has been unable to get any pressure on the quarterback, and it’s cost them dearly.  Opposing receivers have had plenty of time to run free and they’ve used that time to get wide open.  Collaros has one of the best arms in the league, so he won’t need much room to squeeze the ball in to his receivers. If WVU’s front seven can’t get in his face, he’s going to make the Mountaineer secondary look really, really bad.

The Mountaineers Will Roll If: The offense can play to the level of that it is capable of and if they defense can play, well, capably.  Both sides of the ball bear the blame for WVU’s two conference losses, either of which could have been won with a little more focus and effort on both sides of the ball.  Last week’s loss was completely inexcusable and I fully expect the team to come to play this week.  While Geno Smith and company need to simply do what they do to win, the defense will have to do what they haven’t been doing if WVU wants to make it out of the Queen City alive.

The Mountaineers Will Have Trouble If: They play even remotely like they have been over the last month. WVU’s offensive effort has been a stop and go affair, and their defensive production has been absolutely dismal.  It will be virtually impossible to beat the Bearcats if those trends continue.

Thing That Makes My Blood Boil: The Mountaineers lose. Simple really, but the playoffs start today for WVU. They could still make their stated goal of a return trip to the BCS, but they’ll have to win out. A loss in Cincinnati slams the door on the Mountaineers’ season and effectively locks up the Bearcats’ BCS berth. West Virginia faces a good opponent, so success relies on a quantum leap forward, especially for the defense. If the WVU D can’t stop Collaros, it’s officially basketball season in Morgantown.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.