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News » White nearing another Big East milestone


White nearing another Big East milestone


White nearing another Big East milestone
PITTSBURGH - Pre-kickoff squibs from the 101st Backyard Brawl, in which West Virginia has won eight of the last 10 meetings with Pitt in the Steel City (at three sites):


Strange as it seems with Pitt and WVU both 7-3, today's rivalry renewal is the first since 2001 in which neither team in ranked in The Associated Press Top 25.

This is the first time in five years the Mountaineers haven't been ranked while playing Pitt. In 2003, when WVU wasn't ranked, Pitt was No. 16 before a 52-31 pasting in Morgantown.

In '02 - the first Brawl at new Heinz Field - each team entered at 8-3. WVU was No. 24, seven spots lower than the Panthers, but the Mountaineers won 24-17.

And the last time neither was ranked? For that 2001 game, Pitt was 4-5 after an early five-game losing streak and WVU was 3-7 in Rich Rodriguez's first season on his alma mater's sideline. The Pitt date closed Rodriguez's debut season as head coach.

The Panthers won 23-17, downed UAB the next week to finish the regular season 6-5, then won the Tangerine Bowl over North Carolina State.

Pitt has been AP-ranked 19 times for the Backyard Brawl, while West Virginia has been a poll-sitter 13 times at kickoff.

The irony this time is that while neither is AP-ranked (WVU and Pitt are the first two teams outside the top 25, in "also receiving votes), the Mountaineers are 25th in the USA Today coaches' poll, while Pitt is 25th in the Harris poll and 25th in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

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SIX DAYS after a 322-yard total offense performance in a win at Louisville and passing former Syracuse great Donovan McNabb for the Big East Conference career record for touchdown responsibility, WVU quarterback Pat White is closing in on another major mark.

With 226 more yards passing and rushing, the Mountaineer senior will pass McNabb's 1995-98 career Big East total offense record of 9,950 yards. White stands third in that category at 9,725 yards, with former Louisville QB Brian Brohm (9,919) second.

White might not have the mark long, however, if he breaks it (with three career games remaining). On his heels is South Florida QB Matt Grothe, at 9,670 yards. Grothe, who visits Mountaineer Field next Saturday for a noon or 8 p.m. start, is only a junior.

White's career-high game for total offense came on Heinz Field two seasons ago, when he ran for 220 yards and passed for 204 in WVU's 45-27 downing of Pitt.

Those 424 yards are 96 more than his next-best total offense game, 328 against Louisville last season. He had 326 in last season's Fiesta Bowl upset of Oklahoma.

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WHILE THE Mountaineer offense has been inconsistent this season and had first-half droughts that have frustrated coaches, players and fans alike, there is one hallmark effort by the WVU attack in 2008 to date.

West Virginia, always known for its very consistent ability to win the turnover battle in games during Rodriguez's seven seasons, has been even more sure-handed in Coach Bill Stewart's first year.

WVU has only 11 turnovers in 10 games. The low during the Rodriguez years was 15 in 2002, when the Mountaineers started their bowl appearance streak that will reach seven years this season.

West Virginia's 11 giveaways rank seventh best nationally among 120 major college teams. WVU has not committed more than two turnovers in a game this season and is plus-9 over opponents.

The Mountaineers are 48-2 when they've won the turnover battle in the last seven seasons. The losses came in 2003 at Maryland and this season, in overtime, at Colorado.

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WHILE WVU senior center Mike Dent - from nearby Jeanette - wasn't expected to play today as he remains out with a neck injury, Mountaineer officials said a left guard starter would be a game-time decision.

Two-year starter Greg Isdaner was replaced last week as a starter at Louisville by redshirt freshman Don Barclay - his first start. Isdaner's participation today remained iffy because of a head injury suffered in practice in the days before last week's win at Louisville.

Barclay - from nearby Cranberry - would make another start at that guard spot, beside redshirt sophomore Eric Jobe, who would get his third start at center in place of Dent.

Contact Sports Editor Jack Bogaczyk at jackb@dailymail.com or (304) 348-7949.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

Mike Patterson Name: Mike Patterson
#98
Position: DT
Age: 24
Experience: 4 years
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