Perception Meets Reality-WVU/Louisville
West Virginia at Louisville- Say what you want, this will be great theater.
West Virginia is truly an old school offense. They run left, right, up the middle, through the stands, over old ladies, where ever that offensive line will let them. Steve Slaton is the second best player in the country. Pat White can be unstoppable, making Major Harris look like Drew Bledsoe on the mobility scale.
Louisville carries enough octane on offense to make NASCAR engine builders envious. Brohm is back under center, and Hunter Cantwell did a very good job keeping the ship afloat during Brohm's injury. They can move the ball at will.
Two major things can switch this game. Both defenses remain untested. They simply have not faced any offense the caliber of these two. Simply, can they stop each other. Second, can West Virginia rebound if they get behind. They are the road team, they will be the ones in the hostile environment. How hostile? Think Penn State's reception of spurned recruit (and three year Michigan starter) Chad Henne. They will need a Henne type of cool to win. They have the most to prove, the perception is that they are better.
Add the usual disclaimer about special teams, penalties, and turnovers, and you have more wild cards than at a cheesy table at Vegas. Both teams will be nervous, the first half has the potential of ugliness written all over it.
The reality is that a true front runner will emerge. Beat Rutgers, win out, go to Glendale. Sound easy?
I think that this is a flip a coin game. Because the game is in Louisvlle and because they have met their tests better than expected, I'll take the Cardinals by the home field 3.
There are six undefeated teams remaining in Division I-A left after nine weeks; Ohio State, Michigan, West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, and Boise State.
In itself, that is pretty special. To have two of them play each other is extraordinary, or we at least hope so. You see, we really have no idea just how good West Virginia and Louisville are. We think, the bloggers and the pollsters, think that these Big East powerhouses are indeed very good, but the computers are telling us a different story. So much a different story, they have West Virginia at #13, lower than Boise State. Why? They haven't played anybody. Is that new? No.
If you are old enough to remember the Big 8, especially the Big 8 of the 1970's and 1980's, you remember that it was Oklahoma and Nebraska and the six dwarfs. Most years, these two teams played nobody outside of the Big 8, and I mean North Texas nobody, until they would meet the last weekend of the season with the winner going to Miami for the Orange Bowl, and on a number of occasions, the National Championship.
That pretty much sums up the Big East this year. Louisville did play Miami, but as bad luck would have it, Miami looks closer to a strong squall as supposed to a hurricane. Like the Sooner and Cornhusker teams of yore, the Mountaineers and Cardinals have destroyed their competition. West Virginia's running game, featuring quarterback Pat White and super sophomore Steve Slaton has run through, around, and over Morgantown this year. There is certainly no question that West Virginia is an extremely talented team. But, we can't say with any certainty that they are a top five school.
Louisville's case is similar. They score, get yards in bunches, and win. But, they are a little better known than WVU because of not only the Miami game, but an impressive win in Kansas State. They have experienced dramatic change too, as their two pre-season Heisman candidates, Brian Brohm and Michael Bush were severely injured. Bush, so injured, that he's gone for the season. Yet, they looked like they never missed a beat.
So here is where perception meets reality. Both teams are loaded, yet they face maybe the biggest game of their careers. The winner is a win over Rutgers away from the National Championship game. You can argue, and I would probably agree, that an undefeated WVU or Louisville is not better than a one loss SEC team. But, they will have done something that two, maybe three teams can possibly claim this season, that they are undefeated, and that alone earns the ticket to Glendale.