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W.Va. unafraid of Miami

Two straight wins have restored confidence among West Virginia players and fans. Just listen to their comments about this week's game with No. 7 Miami.

"They're just like any other players," wide receiver Zach Abraham said. "They just have the name."

"I think Miami has slipped right now. They're not at the same level they used to be," said linebacker Matt Taffoni, who was reminded of UM's win over Florida State two weeks ago. "I don't have that much respect for Florida State."

The Mountaineers did beat the Hurricanes 17-14 last year to win the Big East title. But they must repeat the victory to regain some respect this season.

This season has been a downer for West Virginia (3-4), beginning with a 31-0 loss to Nebraska in the Kickoff Classic. Consecutive wins over Missouri and Pitt _ a 47-41 thriller with the lead changing three times in the final 92 seconds _ have brightened the picture some, but not enough.

"We still hope to finish with a winning record, and we have a chance at it," West Virginia coach Don Nehlen said. "But it's going to be tough and we have to play better to accomplish a winning season. We're still struggling in some areas."

West Virginia ranks seventh among eight Big East schools in rushing and total offense and last in scoring.

Still the Mountaineers are undetered this week.

"I don't think they're as great as they think they are," West Virginia linebacker Puppy Wright said. "We're the underdogs and we're going to punch them in the mouth."

Comments like that should make the task tougher considering they likely will arouse UM for a game that it could show up for flat.

"His name is what?" UM defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "I guess if you can't run with the big dogs, the Puppy should stay on the porch."

Best game: The top three teams in the conference battle have-nots this weekend. But resurgent Boston College (3-2, 2-1) hosts Rutgers (4-3, 1-2) in a must-win situation.

The Eagles can't afford to slip against the Scarlet Knights if they are to sneak back into the conference chase. BC has won three straight.

Random notes: Virginia Tech kicker Ryan Williams is second in school history with 225 points, nine off the top spot. Temple freshman receiver Troy Kersey was emerging as the team's best offensive threat when he broke his collarbone after three catches for 103 yards against Boston College. Former Pitt starter John Ryan came off the bench to pass for 433 yards in the loss to West Virginia. It was the second-largest passing day in Panthers' history.