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Four bowl games Mountaineers can fondly remember

December 15, 2017
Bob Madison (For the Chronicle) , Shepherdstown Chronicle

With the Saxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl just over the horizon, here are four previous bowls for West Virginia fans to remember with a twinkle in their eyes.

The first was a record-shattering 70-33 win over Clemson in the 2012 Orange Bowl, which culminated the successful 2011 season.

Dana Holgorsen presided over the score-athon against the whiplashed Tigers.

It was a $17 million payday for the Mountaineers, who scored early and so often that they set nine bowl records. West Virginia had 49 points by halftime, with 35 of them coming in the second quarter.

The 70 points is still the most scored in any bowl game.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith destroyed the Tiger defense with six touchdown passes and one rushing TD. Receiver Tavon Austin had four touchdown catches.

Many a Mountaineer fan holds dear the 48-28 strafing of favored Oklahoma in the Jan. 2, 2008 Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix.

The Sooners came into the game as the fourth-ranked team in the country, while WVU carried a No. 9 ranking.

Circumstances surrounding West Virginia's appearance were muddied and somewhat uncertain as Rich Rodriguez left to coach Michigan in mid-December following a draining 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh in Morgantown. If WVU had won that game they would have been in the national championship game.

Amid the ashes of the bitterly disappointing outcome of the Pitt game, Rodriguez left. Assistant coach Bill Stewart was made the interim head coach.

A $17 million check helped heal the lingering wounds . . . but the 48-28 win over the Sooners was the best balm of all.

After Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sang the National Anthem, quarterback Pat White proceeded to gouge Oklahoma with his 326 yards of total offense as the crowd of 70,016 looked on through the Arizona night.

West Virginia held a 20-6 lead by halftime and had two long scoring drives in the second half.

Stewart was praised by one and all for his work leading up to the bowl. At about 2:30 in the morning following the bowl victory, Stewart was given a five-year contract as the head coach.

The 38-35 win over Georgia in 2006 Sugar Bowl also makes Mountaineers everywhere step a little more lively when recalling it.

The Bulldogs were about a 12-point favorite, but were shocked almost beyond belief by the one-time 28-0 lead the Mountaineers created early in the second quarter.

Because of Hurricane Katrina, the game had been relocated from New Orleans to Atlanta and was almost like a home game for the Bulldogs.

Freshman quarterback Pat White engineered the win, and most valuable player Steve Slaton rushed for 204 yards and scored three times.

It was the first of four bowl wins for White.

Rodriguez was still the coach after visiting Alabama and assuring one and all of his unwavering loyalty to everything Mountaineer.

After clipping the Bulldogs, WVU had completed the season with just one loss.

The next season, White was out front as the Mountaineers went to Jacksonville and outscored Georgia Tech, 38-35, in the Gator Bowl played on Jan. 1, 2007.

Trailing by 18 points, the Mountaineers tallied the game's last 21 points to keep White's bowl record clean.

Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who stood too tall against WVU's smaller secondary, shared the MVP Award with White.

Even with 73 total points scored on an overcast afternoon that threatened light rain, neither team could score in the fourth quarter.

West Virginia had no more room for error after falling behind by 18 points. And with White, Owen Schmitt and Brandon Myles providing a ball-control, keep-away offense in the last half, there was no real error.

There's no Pat White, or Steve Slaton, or Owen Schmitt going with West Virginia to Dallas for this year's bowl visit, but there could be fireworks aplenty anyways, as Utah and the Mountaineers try to light up the afternoon in the confines of the Cotton Bowl, site of the game.

 
 
 

 

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