By JOHN WICKLINE
The University of Connecticut has never beaten West Virginia on the football field in its six previous tries, but WVU coach Bill Stewart said his Mountaineers had better learned their lesson of what can happen when you underestimate an opponent or history will repeat itself in a most unfavorable way.
Stewart said during Monday's Big East Coaches' teleconference that he believes his players saw how Pittsburgh dismantled Syracuse and thought last weekend's game would be one in which they could increase their statistical numbers. The only number that matter at the end of the day was that the Orange had scored 19 points, as opposed to West Virginia's 14.
He said if they carry that same thought into the game at 8 p.m. Friday against Connecticut, that 6-0 edge WVU holds over the huskies will no longer be.
"We played a team Saturday that we hadn't lost to since 2001, and that was corrected quickly," he said. "I don't see any reason that, if we don't play to the best of our ability, the same thing won't happen again. Until we learn that, there will be some games that people will shake their heads at."
Both teams enter the game that will be televised by ESPN2 coming off a loss. The Huskies were shut out 26-0 at Louisville to drop to 3-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference. WVU carries a 5-2 record with a 1-1 slate in the Big East.
"We didn't play very well down at Louisville," said UConn coach Randy Edsall. "We have to get back on the saddle and ride the horse and get ready to go in a short week."
Last year's 28-24 victory in Morgantown was the closest score in the history of the series, which dates back to 2004. Stewart said he does not look back at the past, and he hopes his team will avoid thinking the game is an automatic win.
"We'll see if we handle the bump in the road and come back, or if we hit another bump in the road," Stewart said. "Both teams are coming off a loss, and somebody's going to lose Friday. We'll just have to see which team has resiliency and which team has great resolve."