Stats & Info: West Virginia

Irish, Kelly hope third season is a charm

October, 25, 2012
Five great nuggets of information to get you ready for the weekend in college football

1. Could history be repeating itself in South Bend? Four different coaches have been responsible for Notre Dame's eight national championships in the poll era (since 1936).

All four of those coaches captured their first national title in their third season at Notre Dame (Lou Holtz in 1988, Dan Devine in 1977, Ara Parseghian in 1966, Frank Leahy in 1943). Brian Kelly is currently in his third season in South Bend.

2. Duke is bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994 and looks to knock off Florida State this week. But history says not so fast.

Duke is 0-17 all-time against Florida State with all of those games coming since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992. That's the most games ever played by a current BCS-AQ school against any opponent without a win. The next longest? Louisville is 0-13 all-time against Xavier, though the teams haven't met since 1962.

3. A loss this weekend would mean that Tennessee starts 0-5 in SEC play for the third season in a row. That's a stark slide for a proud SEC program that only started 0-5 in the SEC once before in 78 years of membership in the conference.

That came in 1977 during Johnny Majors first year at the helm. And Volunteers fans won't like being in this company. The only other school to start 0-5 in the SEC in three straight seasons is Vanderbilt, which most recently did it from 2000-03.

4. Kansas State's 7-0 start has been aided by its ability to avoid mistakes. The Wildcats are committing 3.4 penalties per game, tied for the fewest in FBS. They also have committed the second-fewest turnovers (four) in FBS.

In fact, Kansas State is the only FBS team that has not allowed a point off a turnover this season. The five teams that have given up fewer than seven points off turnovers this season are a combined 35-0 (Kansas State, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State and Rutgers).

5. Both Baylor and West Virginia have allowed at least 42 points in each of their last four games. It's the first time in the BCS era (since 1998) that one conference has had multiple teams with such simultaneous streaks in a single season. Overall, there have been 33 teams over that stretch that have allowed 42-or-more points in four consecutive games.
The 2011 USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll was released late Thursday morning with the Oklahoma Sooners taking the top overall spot. This is the first time Oklahoma is the preseason No. 1 in the poll since 2003, a season in which they reached the BCS National Championship game before falling to LSU. The team finished third in the coaches' poll that season.

However, the Sooners do not have recent history on their side - the last team to open up the season No. 1 in the coaches' poll and finish the season No. 1 was USC in 2004.

One challenge the Sooners will have to overcome in order to stay No. 1 will be performance on the road. Specifically, the performance of quarterback Landry Jones.

Jones was much more effective at home during the 2010 season - he had a 37-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home compared to 27-to-20 on the road. The team's first road test will be on September 17 at Florida State, with other notable road/neutral games including Texas on October 8, Baylor on November 19 and Oklahoma State on December 3.

Beyond The Top Spot
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame made the largest jump of all teams inside the top 20, going from unranked and 36th in receiving votes to No. 18 in the preseason poll. Three other teams jumped 10 or more spots based on their final ranking from the previous season, including Texas A&M and Florida State, both of whom jumped into the top 10.

On the other hand, three of the final top five teams from the final coaches poll last season dropped by more than 10 spots. Auburn fell 18 spots down to 19th, the largest drop for any team. That's thanks in part to returning only three starters on each side of the ball. It is the lowest debut for a defending national champion since USA Today began administering the coaches' poll in 1991. Meanwhile Ohio State found itself 16th in the preseason poll and TCU sits 15th after finishing No. 2 last season.

Alabama, which picked up 13 first-place votes, comes in at No. 2 and will once again be relying heavily on the running game to stay there. The team lost starting running back and former Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram to the NFL and will now turn to Trent Richardson to pick up where he left off.

Thankfully, Richardson proved himself to be effective last season - perhaps more effective than even Ingram himself. Richardson was superior to Ingram in his yards per rush figures from virtually every angle; rushing inside the tackles (Richardson' 5.0 to Ingram's 4.7), rushing outside the tackles (7.8 to 6.5) and even yards after contact (2.7 to 2.4).

After completing fewer than half of his passes that were thrown in the air 10 yards or more in 2009, LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson's deep passes regressed even further in 2010.

Jefferson is going to have to improve his deep touch if the Tigers are going to overcome of the nation's toughest schedules.

That schedule features an opener against Oregon, trips to Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi State and home dates against Florida, Arkansas and Auburn. In other words, it will be a challenge for the Tigers to remain in the top five all season long.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Big East failed to place a team in the preseason Top 25 for the second time in three seasons.

However, a lot can change between now and January - just ask defending champion Auburn as it was ranked No. 23 in the 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll.

Conference Power Rankings: Week 8

October, 25, 2010
The two biggest movers after week 8 are the ACC and Big East.

The ACC -- thanks to its most AP voting points since Week 1 -- had the largest jump of any conference from last week's rankings. Florida State and Virginia Tech have not lost since September 11th. Miami’s only loss during that span was to FSU. The ACC is one Boise State loss away from overtaking the WAC. Unfortunately for the ACC, our friends at AccuScore say the Broncos have a 92.9 percent chance of remaining undefeated through the remainder of the regular season.

The Big East, on the other hand, continues its fall from the elite. West Virginia’s loss to Syracuse did help the Orange pick up eight AP voting points but also sent West Virginia’s total tumbling from 346 to eight. This is not the formula for success in this system. The Big East is 3-11 against the seven conferences rated above it.

Conference USA, the conference right behind the Big East, has its biggest game of the regular season on Saturday with UCF hosting East Carolina. Each school has won their last nine regular season conference games.

The Pac-10 and Big Ten flip-flopped again with the Pac-10 now holding the number two spot. This should be expected often throughout the rest of the regular season.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences click here.

Conference Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 18, 2010
Thanks to upset losses by South Carolina and Florida, the SEC has lost considerable ground from last week's rankings, and the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big 12 are all closer than ever to the No. 1 spot.

The SEC’s once daunting AP Poll lead has now been trimmed. The top four conferences are all packed tight in the computers so one more top 25 upset loss by the SEC and the conference may find itself without the lead for the first time this season.

The WAC took a blow as well with Nevada losing nearly all of its 376 AP voting points after its loss at Hawaii. This loss almost assuredly will prevent the WAC from moving up in the ratings, and gives the ACC an outside chance of catching the WAC in the coming weeks … particularly if Florida State can continue to rise in the AP Poll.

The Big East’s sole AP Poll contributor West Virginia won its Thursday night game against South Florida, which more than doubled its AP voting points.

Air Force’s surprise loss to San Diego State set the Mountain West back a bit, although the conference's computer ratings remain strong, keeping it within striking distance of the ACC for fifth place.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences click here.
1. Alabama (18 straight games) and Nebraska (12 straight) are each carrying long streaks of allowing 21 points or fewer. How impressive is that? No other FBS team has a streak longer than four games. Two other teams, Rutgers and West Virginia, have done it in every game this season. But both of those teams have played four games and their streak does not extend into last season.

2. Urban Meyer and Les Miles both started their SEC coaching careers in 2005, and Meyer is one of the few FBS coaches with a better record than Miles since that time. When you factor in the 2007 BCS title, Meyer and Mack Brown are the only two coaches who have been inarguably more successful than Miles during this stretch.

NOTE: Boise State's Chris Petersen began in 2006, so he doesn't make the list.

3. It's not often that Alabama and San Jose State are mentioned in the same sentence, but that is the case this week. The Spartans will join the Crimson Tide as the only FBS teams to have played four ranked opponents after this weekend. San Jose State travels to No. 21 Nevada this week after having already lost to ranked teams Alabama, Wisconsin and Utah.

4. Denard Robinson became just the second player with two 200-yard rushing and passing games in the same season, joining Vince Young in 2005. It was Young's final season and he led the Longhorns to the national title. Robinson's numbers through 5 games are better than Young's that season.

5. On Saturday, Georgia will attempt to avoid its first five-game, single-season losing streak since 1953. Pretty amazing considering that every other current SEC team has had at least one such losing streak since then, including some perennial powerhouses. A bit of trivia … other than Georgia, which current SEC schools have the fewest five-game, single-season losing streaks since 1953?

Answer: Auburn and Tennessee with one each.
No. 22 West Virginia travels to No. 15 LSU on Saturday night (9 ET, ESPN), and they bring with them a defense that’s tied for 10th in the country in total defense and 9th in the country in scoring defense. Expect the outcome to hinge on the matchup between the Tigers’ offense and the Mountaineers’ D. Despite averaging nearly 29 points per game this season, LSU currently ranks 91st in the nation in total offense.

The Tigers are especially struggling with the long ball, something that has been a big part of their arsenal over the last few years. With the loss of WR Brandon LaFell, among other graduated players, QB Jordan Jefferson has had a harder time completing passes to his wide receivers down the field this season.

Jefferson completed 18-of-31 passes when targeting LaFell 10 or more yards down the field in 2009. When going deep on Saturday, look for LSU to utilize the play-action fake. So far this season, when throwing 10 or more yards downfield, Jefferson’s pass efficiency is 216.5 on play-action, and only 56.8 without it. He averages nearly THREE times as many yards per attempt when going play-action, and has thrown his only deep touchdown pass off of a play fake.

Watch a Devine RB tonight on ESPN

September, 10, 2010
Here's some quick notes to preview tonight's college football action on ESPN:

23 West Virginia at Marshall, 7 ET on ESPN
• This rivalry is called the Friends of Coal Bowl. The West Virginia Mountaineers and Marshall Thundering Herd play for the Friends of Coal Bowl Trophy.

• WVU is 9-0 all-time vs their in-state rival, winning by 11+ in each of their last eight meetings.

• Marshall coach Doc Holliday is in his first year. He was a former Mountaineers' assistant coach.

Noel Devine, who ranks fifth in WVU history in rushing yards, is the nation’s active career rushing leader (3,492 yards).

• Marshall has lost nine straight games vs ranked opponents.

• Under Bill Stewart, West Virginia is 14-1 at home, but just 4-6 on the road.

UTEP at Houston, 10:15 ET on ESPN
• Last year’s meeting between the UTEP Miners and Houston Cougars featured a total of 99 points (UTEP won 58-41). Case Keenum threw for 536 yards and five TD.

• Houston has won a school-record 16 straight home games and is the C-USA West preseason favorite.

• Cougars' coach Kevin Sumlin’s first coaching gig was as a graduate assistant at Washington State. The head coach at the time? Mike Price, who is now the UTEP coach.