A great week to be a Mountaineer
I live life by a few hard and fast rules.
1) Don't eat seafood if you're nowhere near an ocean.
2) Wear tennis shoes to major sporting events- you never know when a riot could break out and you might need to run.
3) Never take a job where you stare at the clock all day.
And most importantly...
4) Any time WVU puts 70 points on the board in a BCS Bowl game in the same week the basketball team beats a top-10-ranked Big East team, you need to write an article for Wemustignitethiscouch.com.
At this point, you'd think the nation would start to think that WVU kinda shows up for these BCS games.
The week starts off full of promise. Two WVU men's basketball games are scheduled, including Saturday's game against #9-ranked
Going into the Orange Bowl, most reasonable analysts believed WVU's game with the ACC Champion Clemson Tigers was an even match-up of teams featuring similar strengths and weaknesses. (Strengths- offense, weaknesses- defense.)
All week long, WVU fans heard stories about Clemson's unstoppable offense and playmakers like Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins. In the pre-game specials before the Orange Bowl on Wednesday, WVU was essentially presented as The Team Clemson Is Playing. Robert Smith of ESPN's College Football Live predicted that the game would be a blowout for Clemson. Kirk Herbstreit predicted all week long, including in the moments before the game was to start, that the Mountaineers would get "crushed." The only on-air personality to pick the Mountaineers to win during the entirety of the hours of coverage by ESPN was Lou Holtz, a native West Virginian, and even he indicated that he thought Clemson was actually more talented.
Perhaps most telling of the national psyche around the game was The Map, ESPN Sportsnation's poll of national users indicating that literally every state in the United States expected Clemson to beat WVU... except West Virginia.
So what happened?
The game looked as if it was going to be a back-and-forth affair, with both teams scoring at will throughout most of the first 17 minutes of the game or so. Then Clemson turned into a turnover machine in the second quarter, giving up a fumble recovery on WVU's goal-line that led to Darwin Cook tackling the Orange Bowl mascot after a 99-yard return for a touchdown.
It was all fun and games after the fumble recovery for a TD, but Darwin Cook didn't know that Obie the Orange was a girl:
Clemson QB Tahj Boyd didn't want to be left out of the turnover party, so he promptly threw an interception to Pat Miller (I always liked that guy!) and fumbled after being donkey-punched by Bruce Irvin.
These turnovers were made all-the-more important by the fact that WVU was scoring touchdowns. After all of them.
Clemson had no answer for WVU's "quick" play, where Tavon Austin comes across the formation and Geno Smith taps him the ball from a shotgun snap. The Mountaineers scored 4 of their 10 ( ) touchdowns on this one simple play that led to the BCS's first-ever post-game mention of the Colorado School of Mines.
As this play counts as a pass, Geno Smith finished with 401 yards (Orange Bowl Record) 6 passing TDs (BCS record) and 1 rushing TD. Tavon Austin finished with 11 catches for 117 yards and 4 TDs(BCS Record), and broke the unofficial BCS record for "Holy-crap-what-did-he-just-do"s.
WVU called the dogs off in the third quarter as ESPN's game announcers like Ron Jaworski were saying things like, "Clemson might want to run the ball. WVU might put 90 on them." However, an interception by backup QB Paul Millard and Clemson's decision to go for a 2-point conversion following a meaningless late TD seemed to anger Holgorsen into heaping even more of a beatdown onto the ACC Champions.
(Ordinarily, I disapprove of running up the score on anyone. However, I wholeheartedly endorsed the Mountaineers attempting to score as much as possible for several reasons:
1) 70. Folks are going to remember that number loooong after they forget any of these other non-championship BCS games.
2) It was against the ACC, a conference that has raided the Mountaineers' conference twice with no regard for the stability of that conference or the teams in it.
3) After those raids the ACC has refused WVU's request for admission on multiple occasions for various reasons. (Academics, television exposure, etc.)
4) The national media's attitude of disrespect in the days and weeks leading up to this game regarding the Mountaineers and their chances.)
In the end, the Mountaineers came out and laid down an asswhipping so epic that it spawned a week's worth of jokes like this one from Fark.com:
WVU defeats Clemson 70-33 in Orange Bowl. The last time a group of South Carolinians were beaten this badly, it ended slavery.
WVU gave up 33 points and still managed to win by 37 points.
The Mountaineers set so many all-time NCAA bowl records that ESPN Big East Blogger Andrea Adelson needed an entire blog post to cover them all. Some highlights:
WVU now holds the record (in all bowls, not just BCS Bowls) for:
1) Most points in a quarter (35)
2) Most points in a half (49)
3) Most points in a game (70)
The ACC fell to 2-13 all-time in BCS Bowls, and WVU holds more BCS victories alone (3) than the entire ACC Conference.
After the game I tweeted that the Big East could thank the Mountaineers for restoring their legitimacy again by letting WVU go peacefully to the Big 12.
Around the same time the football team began thumping the ACC Champs' collective heads against the sidewalk, the basketball team was applying their own beat-down to Rutgers. WVU downed Rutgers 85-64, as Truck Bryant rebounded from a horrific game in WVU's loss to Seton Hall to score 29 points, and Kevin Jones' 14 point, 14 rebound performance led the way for the Mountaineers.
Almost as if the basketball team was doing Mountaineer fans a favor by allowing them to turn off the game to watch the Orange Bowl, WVU ran up a big lead on Rutgers and never let go even as Rutgers made a push to close the gap. The Mountaineers did, however, succeed in putting up enough points (83), that every sportswriter in the state had to look to some other angle to describe how many points the football team scored.
"OOOOOOH yeah, Jude. I'm gonna make you say something nice about me!"
After spending the week dousing ourselves in champagne and reveling in jokes about the insane 70-points that Dana Holgorsen and company put up, Mountaineer fans were playing with house money going into yesterday's basketball game against #9-ranked Georgetown.
The Hoyas had an 11-game winning streak snapped as they lost to the Mountaineers for the 5th straight time.
Both teams had turnover problems in the first half leading to a 2-point Mountaineer lead at halftime. WVU's struggles came against Georgetown's full-court pressure and Mountaineer inexperience in the backcourt dealing with such pressure.
Kevin Jones was again spectacular with 22 points and 16 rebounds, and is doing little to dispel the notion that he's a strong contender for Big East MVP at this point in the season, as well as national player of the year. He's now 5th in the nation in rebounding and 15th in points per game.
Truck Bryant struggled in the first half (4 turnovers) and didn't shoot well for the game (7-16), but displayed clutch free throw shooting (9-11) down the stretch to put the game out of reach late, finishing with 25 points. Gary Browne was the only other Mountaineer in double figure with 12 points, but he seems to have solved his free throw woes from earlier in the season, as he went 6-for-6 from the line.
With a 3-1 record in the Big East and a resume-padding win over a top 10 team, Mountaineer fans are beginning to dream that the Mountaineer basketball team, though young, might have their own magical season in them this year.
That optimism will be put to the test on Monday, as WVU travels to another top 10-ranked Big East opponent, this time the #8 UConn Huskies, who are coming off of 2 straight losses in conference to Seton Hall and the same Rutgers team that WVU beat down on Wednesday.
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
KJ got his 22 points in a variety of ways, including this buzzer-beating running hook.
So you would think that would be enough of a gift for Mountaineer fans from the Sporting Gods, right? Two basketball wins (including a top 10 upset) and an epic beatdown in a BCS Bowl would make any week special.
But just to show that we all did something REALLY right to deserve good fortune, we were also given the gift of an 0-2 week for Pitt Basketball with losses to Cincinnati and (gasp) DePaul, and for good measure, we also got to witness the Pitt football team lose their bowl game 28-6 to Mighty Southern Methodist University.
Happy New Year, indeed.
The Mountaineer basketball season plows ahead with surprising success given the vast amount of youth on the team, and the football team looks to finish their own season with a respectable national rank and big prospects for next season.
"The victory caps a great season and helps us lay the groundwork for the future," Coach Holgorsen said in this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article. "The win puts our program in a shining moment for now, but we believe better things are ahead."
It's hard to imagine any better weeks for West Virginia University athletics than the one we just had. So if better days are coming, this is going to be fun.
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