After navigating several hardships, including multiple injuries, a conference change, and a few disappointing seasons, redshirt senior cornerback Terrell Chestnut is looking to wrap up the final year of his Mountaineer career the same way he started it: With a bowl victory.
West Virginia has not won a bowl game since the 2012 Orange Bowl, Chestnut’s redshirt freshman season, and the Mountaineer corner is mentally preparing himself to take the field with his college teammates one final time, and trying to make sure they leave Chase Field and the Cactus Bowl victorious.
“I was actually thinking about it last night, but it hasn’t hit me yet…I’m just looking forward to going out there and being with my boys,” Chestnut said.
While winning is obviously the team’s main focus, bowl games provide a great opportunity for team building and strengthening bonds. For Chestnut, it will be the last time he gets to do this, and as a veteran of three bow games, he said he knows you have to find a balance between fun and focus on these trips.
“When it’s time to have fun you have fun, but you know at the end of the day we’re going out there to win a game. I think everybody understands that we’re out there for business. It’s a business trip,” he said.
That is a popular saying among teams headed to bowls. In the business of college football, winning is the only thing that matters. But when you consider the work that these young men put in and the sacrifices they make over the course of the year, the perks of making a bowl act as the light at the end of the tunnel after a long season.
“The gifts are good, and sightseeing. I’m excited to see the hotel. I’ve heard great things about this hotel. Winning, it’s been a while since we won a bowl game. The last bowl game we won was the Orange Bowl, and that was a good time. Everything about a bowl is just so rewarding with all the hard work that you put in throughout the season. It’s going to be a good time,” Chestnut said.
As for the matchup itself, Chestnut and the Mountaineer secondary will be challenged by a good group of Arizona State receivers, and a quarterback in Mike Bercovici that ranks third in the Pac-12 in passing this season.
“They’re big, physical and athletic. It’s probably as physical an offense as we’ve seen, so it’s going to be a good challenge for us,” Chestnut said.
Led by redshirt senior Devin Lucien, the Sun Devil receiving corps has been a problem for opponents all season. Bercovici has benefited from this talented group, tossing 26 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions. Chestnut said ASU’s receivers remind him of some of the talent he has faced in the Big 12 this year.
“Overall it’s probably the fastest receiving corps that we’ve seen; like Baylor and TCU. This receiving corps is pretty fast,” he said.
Chestnut and the Mountaineers will likely lean on that experience they gained in those track meet style games they played against Baylor and TCU to try and come up with their first bowl win since 2012.