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WVU?still in mix for Big East championship

Mountaineers in a six-team race for title

November 15, 2011
By John Wickline, Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen may watch a football game or two Saturday, but he said only as a fan.

The Mountaineers, 7-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big East Conference, find themselves in the heat of a six-team race for the conference crown. Cincinnati, which has only one loss, is the the driver's seat. But five teams are breathing down the Bearcats' neck in the season's last three weeks.

Since 2004, a team with two losses has won the Big East three times, and in each of those years, multiple teams claimed a share of the crown. Last year, three teams all had two losses.

"I haven't experienced that before," Holgorsen said. "We've talked about it all year, and we talked about it at the Big East media meetings, too. You pick one through eight, you could probably flip it, and it's come out that way for the past 10 years."

Four teams Rutgers, WVU, Louisville and Pitt are feature 3-2 records. WVU has defeated Rutgers, but lost to Louisville. Pitt defeated Louisville last week, but lost to Rutgers. Louisville topped West Virginia, but lost to Rutgers.

Cincinnati, which lost to WVU last weekend, still has games remaining at Rutgers and Syracuse before closing out the season with Connecticut. Throw a 2-2 Connecticut team into the mix, which still has home games left with Louisville and Rutgers and a road trip to Cincinnati, and the possible scenarios become mind-boggling.

"It's a competitive conference," Holgorsen said. "Everybody wants to win."

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said looking ahead or scoreboard watching could prove to be a fatal mistake.

"That's when you get into trouble," he said. "We have a one-game season. We are going to try to be 1-0 in the Cincinnati season. But our players don't live in a cave. They know what's at stake."

What's at stake is a BCS berth and a major payoff for the school that gets to represent the Big East against the elite of another conference.

"I'm not going to be dissecting it or cheering loudly or any of that," Holgorsen said. "You only worry about what you can control. We can only control playing our next game and the next. The only way that will work out is if we win the next two games. If we win the next two games, and we're in position, that's great. If we don't win, it's not going to matter."

The Mountaineers have two weeks to prepare for their next opponent, arch-rival Pitt. Kickoff for the Nov. 25 game in Morgantown has been set at 7 p.m,. and the game will be televised by ESPN. It is the final home game for WVU, which will conclude its season the following Friday at South Florida.

It is also potentially the final meeting in the storied rivalry, as WVU has announced it will play in the Big 12 next season, and Pitt has announced it will be leaving the Big East in the coming months to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

WVU athletic director Oliver Luck has stated he will try to keep the century-long series going.



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