Opening Day Number Crunching

  • August 29, 2010 09:54 AM
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Posted by Jed Drenning on Sunday, August 29, 2010
(10:00 a.m.)

MSN radio sideline reporter Jed Drenning is providing periodic commentary on the Mountaineer football program for MSNsportsNET.com. You can also read more about Mountaineer football at Jed’s new web site http://thesignalcaller.com.

Opening day at Mountaineer Field. It means different things to different folks.

For the team at large it means an opportunity to finally hit someone in a different color jersey. It means a chance to give the believers something to chew on and the skeptics something to think about.

For seniors like Noel Devine, Jock Sanders and Chris Neild it means their last ever opening day experience in Morgantown and turning the first page of a final chapter in their career that they hope ends in January glory. For quarterback Geno Smith it means leaving the clipboard and freshman innocence behind to step onto the field for the first time as a major college starting quarterback. For newcomers such as Ivan McCartney and Bruce Irvin it means their first ever taste of action in front of a spine tingling five-digit attendance.

For the fans themselves it means packing the cooler, grabbing the finger foods and bean dip and sticking one of those WVU mini flag thingies on their vehicle. It means loading up the car, turning on the pregame radio coverage and heading to Morgantown brimming with the unbridled optimism that only a new season can herald. It means a reunion with fellow tailgaters and a chance to reminisce over stories about dynamic opening day performances of years passed.

Much like the stories of the trophy-sized bass that got away, the narratives often have a way of growing in stature each time they’re retold. For example, don’t be surprised if this Saturday in the Blue Lot you hear one fan regaling another about the time they watched Kay-Jay Harris run wild for 400 yards against East Carolina. Harris, you might recall, actually finished with a record 337 yards in that 2004 opener. Or if this Saturday you find yourself passing through the newly dubbed ‘Student LOT’ (formerly known as ‘The Pit’) you might be within earshot of a story being weaved about the time Pat White threw seven touchdown passes against Villanova. White of course had a record five TD passes in the 2008 opener, not seven. For that matter, if you’re in The Student LOT you might find yourself within earshot of quite a few (ahem) other things as well.

Either way, accurate memories can often be hard to find in the company of frenzied fans, especially when those fans are about to get their first taste of real football in nine months. But the fact of the matter is West Virginia’s opening day exploits in Morgantown really don’t need much embellishment. The numbers are staggering enough already.

With kickoff so close we can almost smell the wings on the grill, there’s no better time than now to serve up a few statistical nuggets about West Virginia’s previous opening day match-ups at Mountaineer Field:

  • WVU is 25-4-1 all-time in home openers at Mountaineer Field. In an odd twist, three of those four losses have come against Big Ten teams (Purdue 1995; Ohio State 1998 & Wisconsin 2003). The only other loss was 34-3 to Pitt on opening day in 1991.

  • The average opening day score at Mountaineer Field has been: WVU-37, Opponents-16

  • In Mountaineer Field home openers against FCS programs (such as Coastal Carolina this Saturday) or FBS teams that aren’t currently a member of a BCS affiliated conference, West Virginia’s record goes to 20-0-1 and the Mountaineers per game scoring advantage increases to 41-to-13.

  • Since Mountaineer Field opened in 1980 West Virginia has put together five 11-win seasons: 1988, 1993, 2005, 2006 and 2007. All told, the Mountaineers have averaged 50 points per game in the home openers of those five seasons. That includes 1988 Bowling Green (62 points); 1993 Eastern Michigan (48 points); 2005 Wofford (35 points); 2006 Marshall (42 points); and 2007 Western Michigan (62 points).

  • Thirteen times in thirty Mountaineer Field home openers WVU has put more than 40 points on the board.

  • Six times West Virginia has scored more than 50 points, with a high of 62 being scored twice (see above: 1988 & 2007).

  • Six times in those thirty games the West Virginia defense has kept the opponent out of the endzone entirely, including one shutout (38-0 over Ohio University in 1984).

  • Eleven times in those games the Mountaineer defense has limited the opposition to 10 or fewer points, and in more than half of those games (16 out of 30) WVU has held the opposition to 14 or under.

    No matter how you stack it football – real football – is finally upon us again.

    Opening day at Mountaineer Field. What’s it mean to you?