The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

September 13, 2006

Mountaineers, Terps poised for tough tussle

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia and Maryland are poised for one of their traditionally tough, powerfully physical clashes here tonight.

It shapes up as the first real challenge of the year for both of these border-state rivals after comparatively easy 2-0 starts.

Adding significance to this 45th confrontation is the fact the series is even at 21-21-2. The fifth-ranked Mountaineers swept the last two meetings to forge the deadlock.

“We’ve done pretty well in overtime in the past, so, hopefully, it will carry over to this tie-breaker,” said Jeremy Sheffey, WVU’s all-Big East offensive guard.

Quinton Andrews, the starting free safety, said the Mountaineers get pumped up especially for night games. And it shows in the records.

“It’s always a great atmosphere with a full house, and (in mid-week) we’re the only game on TV,” Andrews noted. “So everyone is going to want to show what they can do with millions watching.”

WVU has won 16 of 20 night games under sixth-year coach Rich Rodriguez, including eight victories in a row at home dating back to 2001.

A capacity crowd of 60,000 is expected for the 7:49 p.m. kickoff at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium. Showers are in the forecast for the day, with the temperature falling from a high of 73.

ESPN will televise the game nationally.

The oddsmakers have listed West Virginia as the clear-cut favorite. The line ranges between 14 1/2 and 17 1/2 points.

Tailback Steve Slaton isn’t the only Mountaineer who’s eager to show Maryland what it missed out on. Fullback Owen Schmitt also harbors a similar sentiment.

Coach Ralph Friedgen withdrew a scholarship offer to Slaton, who had committed verbally to Maryland, because it had recruited too many running backs that year.

Friedgen’s staff also showed a lack of interest in Schmitt, a junior from Fairfax, Va., who grew up watching Maryland teams play.

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