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WVU home slate takes a hit

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia's 2001 home football schedule took a big hit Thursday when Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick announced he's entering the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Oct. 6 clash with the Hokies is the marquee game on WVU's six-game home

slate. But some of that luster is gone without the exciting and unpredictable Vick.

"There's no doubt Michael Vick helps with ticket sales," WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong said. "But I'm sure there are 1.7 million West Virginians glad they don't have to see him again in a Virginia Tech uniform.

"We almost got him here two years ago."

Even without Vick, Virginia Tech is likely the best team invading Mountaineer Field. Only old rival Pittsburgh is the only other marquee matchup on the home schedule.

Other home games are with Mid-American Conference foes Ohio (Sept. 8) and Kent State (Sept. 22) and Big East Conference also-rans Rutgers (Nov. 3) and Temple (Nov. 17).

New coach Rich Rodriguez will find out quickly just how good his team is, as the Mountaineers open their season at Boston College, Sept. 1.

The Eagles' program has grown steadily under Tom O'Brien, and BC capped this season with a bowl victory over Arizona State.

The Eagles should provide a stern test.

"BC came in here for the season's opener and left mad," Pastilong said. "I'm sure that will be an extremely difficult opener for the Mountaineers.

"But on the plus side, three of our last four games are at home and that should give the team a chance to make a run at a bowl game."

Unlike this past season, the final under Don Nehlen, most of West Virginia's marquee games are on the road.

In addition to their trip to Boston, the Mountaineers also face Notre Dame (Oct. 13), Miami (Oct. 25) and Syracuse (Nov. 10) on the road. The Mountaineers also travel to Maryland on Sept. 15.

"The good thing about our road games is that they're well spaced and the team will have time to regroup," Pastilong said.

n A pair of Mountaineer standouts are set to play this weekend in the Rotary Gridiron Classic, held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Wide receiver Khori Ivy and linebacker Chris Edmonds will play for Team Florida.

Kickoff for the game is set for 1 p.m. EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com.

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