So the Mountaineers hit the road for the first time this season for this Joe Manchin Bowl in what has the makings to be, well, I can't figure it out. What I can do is this, though: Give you five aspects of this game, five storylines to pay special attention to as you watch Tess and Gil break down all the action in this Wild and Wonderful whirlwind of a football clash.
1. Quick hitter: Watch for the Mountaineers, when they get the football, to take a shot; a big, fat, hammer-of-a-quitter right to Marshall's jaw early. Everyone saw what Ohio State did to the Herd and that is jump out early, step on their face and never let them in it. Now, there is no question West Virginia isn't nearly the football team Ohio State is -- but there is also no question that West Virginia has more talent than Marshall. That said, the thought here is Jeff Mullen takes a crack at a home run early.
2. Is he Goode enough?: Because of the injury to Pat Lazear (Robert Sands is such a force he causes players on his own team to miss games) the linebacking corps must be reshuffled again, with Anthony Leonard moving into Lazear's spot and Najee Goode getting elevated to the starter on the strongside. It will be interesting to see what happens when Goode goes head-up sometimes with Marshall tight end Lee Smith, who is one of the players who might cause the West Virginia defense some problems.
3. Keep giving it to him: OK, West Virginia fans, stand up and applaud Jeff Mullen -- because you get all over him when you disagree with him, and now it is only right to cheer him. You called and called and called for running back Noel Devine to get more carried all through last season. Well, last week against Coastal Carolina, he got the ball handed to him 23 times and also caught two passes. Seems 25 touches is a pretty solid number for a guy his size. In this Marshall game, it will be intriguing to see if such a workload continues.
4. Light a spark under Starks: Just keep waiting for Bradley Starks to come into his own, as he seems to have so much athletic ability. It will be interesting to watch, in this game, if the playcalling is more geared toward some of the younger receivers. If that is, indeed the case, Starks might just be a guy on the outside looking in when it comes to a key role in the offense for the remainder of the year -- passed up by the younger guys.
5. And then there are the coaches ...: Doc Holliday wanted the West Virginia job when Bill Stewart was named the coach. Doc Holliday was the first person to interview for the vacancy when Rich Rodriguez jetted off to Ann Arbor. Doc Holliday worked under Bill Stewart for two seasons and the two didn't always see eye to eye in the Puskar Center. Both say they don't want it to be about the coaches in this game --- sorry, it is. The postgame handshake should be fun to watch.