Unbeatens battle in Big East

Unbeatens West Virginia and Louisville battle Thursday on ESPN. However, the winner of this game will have a hard time finishing the season undefeated, Kirk Herbstreit writes.

Updated: November 3, 2006, 11:09 AM ET
By Kirk Herbstreit | Special to ESPN.com
Since August, West Virginia and Louisville have known that if they took care of business, a lot would be decided Thursday night at Papa John Stadium (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET). To their credit, both teams have done a good job of staying focused to get to this point.

Louisville has overcome the adversity of losing running back Michael Bush in the first game of the season; then there was QB Brian Brohm's thumb injury against Miami. (Don't forget, Brohm is less than a year removed from having major reconstructive knee surgery.) The winner of this game is in the driver's seat for the Big East title and a BCS bowl game -- and stays in contention for the national title.

Steve Slaton
AP Photo/Jeff GentnerLouisville has to slow down running back Steve Slaton and force the Mountaineers to throw the ball.

For the most part, the Mountaineers have stayed healthy all season. The only adversity they have had to deal with is from the national pundits who have been comparing them to other undefeated and one-loss teams that are worthy of playing for the national title. West Virginia has had to deal with style points and how it's been winning; give coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff credit for keeping this team focused, because that easily could have become a distraction.

Kirk Herbstreit

College Football analyst
Kirk Herbstreit has been an ESPN college football studio analyst since August 1996. Herbstreit, who joined ESPN in September 1995 as a college football sideline analyst for ESPN2, is also a game analyst for ESPN's Thursday night college football telecasts.