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West Virginia Vs. South Florida: Mountaineers Need A Win In Tampa To Keep BCS Hopes Alive

West Virginia needs to win on the road tonight to have a shot at a BCS berth.

Who: South Florida Bulls

When: 8:00 PM, Thursday December 1, 2011

Where: Raymond James Stadium

What to Watch For When The ‘Eers Have the Ball: The big play. After ten games this season it becomes apparent that while the Mountaineers lack a cohesive attack on offense, the potential for the big play is always there, usually in the form of Stedman Bailey. A steady matriculation of the football upfield, picking up first downs along the way would be great to see, but at this point it looks highly unlikely. If Geno Smith can find Tavon Austin consistently on a few crossing routes, and spring Bailey for a long bomb or two the Mountaineers should be able to pile up enough points to win this one.

What to Watch For When The Bulls Have the Ball: The reinvigorated Mountaineer defensive front. This year's Backyard Brawl will forever be remembered as the game where the ‘Eers sacked the quarterback a whopping 10 times. Many of those came in crucial late game scenarios where WVU desperately needed a stop. It was a like a phoenix rising from the ashes, as Jeff Casteel's crew had been much maligned in recent weeks.  While the offense has struggled, it had appeared unlikely that the defense would be able to pick up the slack.

The Mountaineers Will Roll If: They can get big plays out of the offense and the defense. When the Mountaineers do that, they're unstoppable. When they don't? Very, very stoppable.

The Mountaineers Will Have Trouble If: They can't get big plays out of the offense and the defense. This season, the Mountaineers have slowly sunk into oblivion in the games where they can't get a big play

Thing That Makes My Blood Boil: If the ‘Eers lose this one. After slowly climbing out of the huge hole they had dug for themselves by dropping games to Syracuse and Louisville, the Mountaineers actually have a shot at the BCS. Beat South Florida. Get some help from Cincinnati, and WVU's season is by all measures a success. Unfortunately, that makes me really, really nervous. The Mountaineers, historically, have struggled against South Florida, and now that Bobby Eveld seems to be growing into the idea of being the Bulls quarterback, they've got a shot. This game is for neurotic Mountaineer fans like myself. I'd love to see a WVU blowout, but I think this one could totally go either way, and could disappoint a lot of fans in Morgantown. It's edge-of-your-seat time for all Mountaineer fans, and that shouldn't make anyone feel optimistic one bit.

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