The Matchup: No. 5 West Virginia vs. East Carolina
Starr, Rick, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
When: Noon Today
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va.
TV/Radio: ESPN2/ WAJR (1440 AM), WVAQ (101.9 FM) and the Mountaineers Sports Network; Sirius Ch. 123.
Betting line: WVU by 24 1/2
Prediction: West Virginia 44, East Carolina 14
West Virginia has won six straight, including last year's 27-10 victory in Greenville, N.C., and leads the series, 16-2.
The Mountaineers have had nine days to rest coming off a 31-14 victory at Maryland, while the Pirates had a normal week of practice coming off a 28-21 home conference loss against Southern Mississippi. WVU is 11-0 against the Pirates in Morgantown.
WHAT TO EXPECT
ESPN2 picked up this noon broadcast hoping for a slew of big plays from West Virginia's running attack, which ranks second nationally (343.7 avg.). WVU features not only a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton, but just added versatile freshman sensation Noel Devine to the mix. WVU has 141 points in three games.
BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
West Virginia can't score without the football, and that means stopping East Carolina quarterback Patrick Pinkney. Frustrating Pinkney is the key, because he's accounted for all but 198 yards of East Carolina's offense this season. …