My son is attending college at a northern Ohio pharmacy school.
In West Virginia’s last two visits to Cincinnati, I would pick up my son and the two of us would go the football game between the Mountaineers and the Bearcats.
Every two years, that was our game.
The first year, we attended the game and then drove him back to college that night. It made for a long day and it nearly killed me. We were both so tired, it might have possibly killed the both of us.
I definitely wasn’t foolish enough to make that same mistake two years later.
That time, we rented a motel room in Cincinnati and spent the night there, following the game.
Those were memorable games for the Mountaineers and for us.
Not only did the Mountaineers win both games, there were certainly some strange occurrences that coincided with them.
The first time my son and I were there, they briefly lost some of the lights in Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium during the football game. The nationally-televised game on ESPN was halted until the power was restored.
The second time we went to the West Virginia-Cincinnati game, before leaving for the stadium, our hotel and nearly every other establishment on that city block lost its electricity.
It came as quite a shock to us that somebody in the city was always losing power when we were there.
And by this time, you are probably wondering what all this really has to do with the upcoming game between the Mountaineers and the undefeated Bearcats.
The Mountaineers have certainly been their own worst enemies this season.
I believe that, in order to prevail in this football game, West Virginia is going to have to play “lights out” on defense!
Fumbles, interceptions, penalties, and poor offensive line play have hurt the Mountaineers all season. They have kept the Mountaineers out of the end zone; they have helped the opposition get there. And those miscues have been largely responsible for the team failing to live up to expectations.
However, before the season began, everybody who follows West Virginia believed this team would be outstanding on defense. Despite their wealth of returning starters, that defensive strength has failed to materialize.
They have certainly been a disappointment in getting the opposition off the field.
I don’t have any problem with a “bend, but don’t break” defensive philosophy. I do have a problem with bend and break execution.
In fairness to the defense, there have been a great number of injuries to the starters. In addition to the injury to linebacker Reed Williams, the Mountaineers’ entire defensive front has been devastated. But somehow, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has cobbled together a group of eleven players to take the field.
To the casual observer, the odds are certainly against the Mountaineers in this game.
However, I believe the strange circumstances that my son and I have experienced in Cincinnati will continue this week.
In addition to the Mountaineers playing “lights out” on defense, I am expecting the West Virginia offense to finally light up the scoreboard.
This game definitely has upset written all over it.
Cinci coach Brian Kelley is unquestionably one of the finest coaches in the game. He has the Bearcats playing inspired football, no matter which quarterback in taking those snaps under center. They are clearly riding a wave of success.
The Mountaineers have not played an entire four quarters of great football all season. And I think they are long overdue. And if there was ever a game for a team to come together, then it has to be this one.
But if they really want to play a “lights out” football game, West Virginia would be wise to employ a power running game. I would love to see them line up in the “I” formation and use fullback, Ryan Clarke to pound the Bearcat defense.
Another key to this game will be the play of West Virginia’s emerging talent, Julian Miller, a defensive player who could definitely short circuit the high-powered Cincinnati offense.
Despite their loss to South Florida, the Mountaineers could still win the Big East Conference if they would win the remainder of their games.
I am predicting an upset on Friday night and expecting the Mountaineers to pull the plug on the Bearcats’ championship dreams.