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Wednesday Morning Five: Why West Virginia Wins

Don't flip out, there's a Louisville one coming later spazzes.

5. West Virginia has absolutely no fear of Louisville.

The notion that Louisville was going to waltz into the Big East and trounce the league's vets the way they'd done to Houston and Tulane was officially put to bed in the final quarter and subsequent overtimes of last October's game at Mountaineer Field. After watching the Cardinal defense essentially lay down in the final 10 minutes of regulation, West Virginia will come into The Oven with the belief that they are mentally and physically tougher, in better shape, and more prepared than the guys ranked just two spots below them. They believe that if they push hard enough for 60 minutes, that Louisville will eventually break and they'll roll back to Morgantown with another W.

4. Brian Brohm's thumb is still an issue.

In the biggest game since he took over as Louisville's starting quarterback, Brian Brohm was well on his way to giving his best performance to date. He was 10-of-14 for 184 yards and had hit Mario Urrutia deep over the middle for a beautiful 56-yard touchdown that was sure to be all over the highlight reels that night. But then he went down and the Louisville fan base held their collective breath for the second time in three weeks.

On paper it would appear that in his first two games back Brohm hasn't missed a beat, but the film tells a far different story. The accuracy is still there, but the zip is not, which has resulted in Petrino taking barely any shots down field. Against Cincinnati, Brohm tried to hit a streaking Mario Urrutia deep along the sidelines on back-to-bak plays, and in both instances the ball was underthrown by about 10 yards. Against Syracuse he took as many shots down the field as we did watching from home. The wrap should be off on Thursday, but there's no way of knowing if the zip will be back.

Two major injuries in this short a time can get in the head of any football player, even one with the resolve of Brian Brohm. For Louisville to win Brohm needs to be at the top of his game, and at this point the odds are against him.

3. West Virginia has a defense.

Contrary to what you've heard about Dub Vee having no answer on the other side of the ball for the Cardinal offense, the 'eers rank 12th in the nation in total defense, fourth in pass efficieny defense, eighth in scoring defense and 16th in rushing defense.

West Virginia has allowed more than 20 points just once, to a solid Maryland team that scored most (all) of their points once the game was already out of reach. They have allowed over 100 yards just twice, to Maryland and Marashall and both those games were over after the first quarter. If Louisville can't establish a running game, which they've struggled to do sans Syracuse, then they're going to have a hard time throwing it.

2. Pat White can throw.

Well, he can throw well enough to hit a wide open  Darius Reynaud if 11 guys in black lose their jocks on a play fake.

White ranks second, behind Pitt's Tyler Palko, in the Big East in passing efficiency (153.6), completing 68.8 percent of his passes. So far in 2006 he's 64-of-93 (68.8%, which is up 12 points from last season) for 822 yards and seven touchdowns. White also showed he can do it on the biggest of stages when he was 11-of-14 for 120 yards and a score in WVU's  now infamous Sugar Bowl win over Georgia.

Louisville will hope to put itself in a position where Pat White is forced to win the game with his arm, the bad thing is, he just might.

1. The rushing assault of Steve Slaton and Pat White....Duh.

Slaton is the fourth leading rusher in the country, averaging 151.3 yards per, and reached the 1,000-yard mark for a season faster than any back in Mountaineer history. He has accounted for 47.4% of the Mountaineers' nation-leading rushing attack. White, just 12 starts into his collegiate career, has already surpassed Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb on the career rushing list for Big East quarterbacks, and should own the record by the end of the season.

That's it? No band? Outrageous, we know. You must feel so unsatisfied.