This Thursday night, West Virginia takes on the Colorado Buffaloes in a nationally-televised game on ESPN.
I’m thinking it’s a bad week to be a Buffalo!
In the first century of our nation’s history, the Indians worshipped the buffalo. They sang songs about them. They generally only killed them for food and raiment. It has been said that the Indians used nearly every part of the buffalo—including the marrow—for a specific purpose.
Before the introduction of horses to North America, large groups of Indian braves would force a herd of buffalo into a stampede, running them over a cliff. Then they would harvest the animals for food and other essentials to their existence.
For the sake of the settlers, the protection of railroad interests, and the elimination of the Indian, the U.S. Army encouraged the wholesale slaughter of the bison. Hunters killed them by the thousands, removing their hides and leaving the rest to decay in the sun.
Their species was nearly hunted into extinction.
Today, those that still remain started playing football in Colorado.
However, the buffalo's ultimate extinction will come to fruition this week.
Although Jessica Simpson may not have realized that buffalo wings do not come from buffaloes, Mountaineer fans certainly know the truth. However, as experts in the seasonal, culinary art of football tailgating, the term “buffalo” immediately creates a hunger in West Virginia fans everywhere.
Mountaineers see buffaloes as being an attractive food source, another type of meat to be marinated with their favorite, secret sauce, flung upon their grills and heated to perfection.
In West Virginia, we also continue to place great value on skinning animals taken while hunting. Then, we routinely mount their heads as trophies on our living room walls.
The mountaineer has a long, rich history of living off the land, being a crack rifle shot, and hunting for wild game.
Coming off their recent loss to Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium, these Mountaineers are looking to skin somebody’s hide. Anybody!
Enter the Colorado Buffaloes.
Coach Bill Stewart, his staff, and the players may tell you that revenge is not a factor in this game, but they would clearly be lying.
Last year’s overtime loss in Boulder was a great disappointment to the Mountaineers. And in much the same way that the East Carolina game was specifically marked off on the Mountaineers’ schedule, this game was as well.
In this crucial out of conference matchup, the pride of the team and the conference’s image is at stake in this game.
Trust me, the Mountaineers want this game—bad!
Like Colorado, West Virginia has had nearly two weeks to prepare for this game. But that is where the similarities end.
In the Auburn game, the Mountaineers apparently found the cure to their early difficulties on kickoff coverage. So, it would appear that problem should be a thing of the past. In addition, I am confident that ball control issues have been addressed vehemently.
If they eliminate their recent tendency to shoot themselves in the foot, then the Mountaineers will be simply deadly on offense. Moreover, the defense is clearly much better than anything else the Buffs have faced this season.
Playing at Mountaineer Field is unquestionably one of the toughest venues there is for any opposing team in college football. It becomes doubly tough when playing the Mountaineers in a night game.
And on a night when West Virginia will be honoring Mountaineer great Major Harris for his recent election to the College Football Hall of Fame, all of these factors will combine to create a Buffalo stampede, driving Colorado right for the cliff.
I see the Mountaineers winning this game by three touchdowns.
The Colorado Buffaloes will find themselves a long way from the plains on Thursday night. They will also be surrounded by 60,000 hostile and hungry natives. And they are facing a Mountaineer team that failed to skin a Buffalo in their last hunting trip.
It’s definitely going to be a bad night to be a buffalo.