The West Virginia Mountaineers (3-0), ranked No. 5 in both AP and USA Today football polls, welcome the East Carolina Pirates (1-2) of C-USA to campus for an ESPN2 televised game with a Noon ET kickoff.
The Mountaineers, led by the top quarterback-tailback rushing tandem in the nation with Heisman candidate Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White, have had trouble moving the ball against the Pirates in the past and are aware, East Carolina, under the direction of head coach Skip Holtz will come in ready to make some noise.
College Football Picks expert Reno Goldberg commented, “I can’t believe East Carolina is getting such little respect from oddsmakers chalking them more than a three touchdown underdog” (+24 ½, BetUS.com). “I think the Pirates will be able to go toe to toe with West Virginia for awhile. And they will score a few points on their own too.”
Two years ago in Morgantown, West Virginia managed just 127 yards on the ground in a 20-15 win. Last year at East Carolina, the Pirate defense limited the Mountaineers to 157 yards rushing including only 80 from All-American Steve Slaton.
“I’ve always been impressed with what they do defensively,” West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday afternoon. “Their defensive front has been playing outstanding, the linebackers are as good as anybody we’ll play and it may be the best group of athletes that we have played all year.
In spite of the respect the Pirates get from Rodriguez, oddsmakers at Bodog.com have issued odds favoring the Mountaineers by -24 ½ points. A slight majority of early betting (54 percent) has fallen on the side of the Mountaineers. Currently no money line odds are available.
Up front East Carolina (1-2) has two big run-stoppers in the middle in 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound sophomore Jay Ross and 6-foot-3-inch, 296-pound Mark Robinson. Six-five, 222-pound junior defensive end Zach Slate is one of the Pirates’ top defensive playmakers with 19 tackles, 5 ½ tackles for losses and two sacks.
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