WVU Football: Get Used to Top-Ranked Teams from the Big 12 Playing in Morgantown
It’s about time once again for West Virginia football to host a highly-ranked opponent.
Through the vision and chutzpah of athletic director Oliver Luck and WVU’s place in the Big 12 Conference, Mountaineer fans should get used to top-drawer teams from the league making the trip to the Eastern Time Zone.
The lineup for the remainder of this season looks like opportunities have come pounding down and kicking in the Milan Puskar Stadium door already.
This weekend, as all college football fans know, finds Bowl Championship Series No. 4 Kansas State in Almost Heaven. And, in just one day short of a lunar month, Week 8 BCS No. 9 Oklahoma visits Morgantown.
If the Sooners hold off No.. 24 Iowa State and keep the echoes silent when No. 5 Notre Dame comes calling, Luck's promise of the Big 12 Conference adding meat to the home schedule will be realized in West Virginia's inaugural Big 12 season.
It of course always works better if the vanquished like perhaps Kansas State and Oklahoma continue to win. The BCS computers like teams with tough rows to hoe.
Nothing adds quality to the slate more than defeating one-loss and two-loss teams. Three-loss teams help things out, too. In fact, the better all defeated teams do, the better the algorithms treat the Mountaineers in that one-third keenly objective segment of the BCS equation.
West Virginia has a decent history of bringing ranked competition in to play on Mountaineer Field.
1) No. 2 LSU visited to Morgantown in 2011, leaving with 47 points and a decisive fourth win out of four games on the way to last season's BCS title game.
2) Pittsburgh took its eighth-ranked Panthers an hour down Interstate 79 to Morgantown in 2009, only to be upset on a walk-off Tyler Bitancurt field goal. That made up for the big upset in 2007 when...uh, no.
3) In 2005, Virginia Tech kept the Black Diamond Trophy and its undefeated record intact, as the No. 3 Hokies harassed the Mountaineers, players, coaches and fans alike for a 34-17 victory.
4) The No. 3 Hokies made the trip up north in 2003 with an unblemished record. Rich Rodriguez opened it up a couple of times—specifically a 96-yard touchdown from quarterback Rasheed Marshall to the ultra-talented Chris Henry—and West Virginia put Virginia Tech back on the plane hurting to the tune of 31-7.
Other notables were the home losses to No. 1 Miami in 2002 and to No. 3 Virginia Tech with Michael Vick in 1999.
West Virginia also pulled off high-profile upsets in Morgantown—one over No. 4 Miami in 1993 and this old guy’s favorite, the 21-20 come-from-behind victory in 1984 against No. 4 Boston College, sending Doug Flutie, the little Heisman Trophy winner, back to the Northeast wondering what could have been.
If ever history was irrelevant, it is now. All but two of the wins chronicled above came against teams from the ancient, old, more competitive Big East Conference. And the crème-filled gnocchi cupcake schedule resulted from a weak league and a previous athletic administration that was satisfied with nine wins and a bid to the Gator Bowl.
Those days are over. You have Luck wanting a national championship and Dana Holgorsen with the offensive blueprint to get West Virginia in the game. A defense is required, but getting what they need would require the same laser focus that was lined out for the attack. If WVU is successful in putting together a big D, folks, just watch out!
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