West Virginia Mountaineers (-10) An Asserted Favorite Over South Florida Bulls
October 14th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross
The West Virginia Mountaineers and South Florida Bulls face off in a Big East Conference showdown Thursday night in prime time.  While South Florida (3-2) enters this contest having already lost two games on the season, West Virginia (4-1) cracked the top-25 this past week after a blowout victory over UNLV.  Still, the Bulls have taken four of the last five games against the Mountaineers, with West Virginia looking to change the trend at home in Morgantown.

West Virginia entered the season ranked in the top-25, but fell out after a loss on the road to LSU.  The 49-10 over  UNLV this past Saturday gave voters enough of a reason to put them back in.  Now, the Mountaineers must continue to play well, as the Bulls have had their number of late.

“We’ve got a lot on our hands,” said West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart. “They’ve whipped us the last couple of games. We even lost against them with a fine quarterback by the name of Patrick White. You can call it a whole combination of things.”

On the other sideline, the Bulls are under the direction of first-year head coach Skip Holtz, and have not gotten off to the best of starts under the new regime.  That, includes a 13-9 loss last week to Big East rival Syracuse, as South Florida is in an early hole in the conference standings.

“This is going to be one of the better football teams we’re going to play, especially playing on the road on a Thursday night,” Holtz said of the Mountaineers. “They’re throwing the ball better than they ever have. They are adding a dimension to their offense they have not had over the last four or five years.”

Holtz was referring to Mountaineers’ quarterback Geno Smith.  Smith ranks second in the Big East in passing, throwing for 1,139 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Last Saturday, Smith completed 12 of 16 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns  in just over one half of play.  Each of those three touchdown passes went to receiver Brad Starks, who had missed the last four games with an injury to his groin.

“We made comments in our staff room that arguably our best receiver has yet to catch a pass and we were still doing pretty well in the throw game after four games,” remarked Mountaineer offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen said. “And certainly after five I am assuming we’re still doing OK in that department and now we’ve got one of our better players the ball.”

The Mountaineer ground game is not too shabby either, with Noel Divine in the backfield.  Divine rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries last week.

For South Florida, duel-threat quarterback B.J Daniels anchors the offensive charge, as he rushed for over 100 yards against the Mountaineers last season.  However, the Bulls only managed 219 total yards last week in the loss to Syracuse, and will look to rebound this week against a team they have had recent success with.

“They’ve got talent, they’ve got coaching, they’ve got a lot of things,” Stewart said. “They’ve got great athleticism and as many talent players as they’d like to have. If people don’t think they’re good, they don’t have a clue.”

Game Line-

USA Online Sportsbooks and College Football Betting Lines have set the Mountaineers as an asserted 10-point favorite in this match up.

Over/Under Betting Trends-

The Over is 6-2 for the Bulls in the last eight Big East games.  The Over is 7-2 in the Mountaineers last nine Thursday night contests.

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