Royal Review: West Virginia - Cincinnati

It was a great weekend in more ways than one, as WVU got the victory and I got to come back to the Queen City and eat some Montgomery Inn Ribs. The following are my Royal 10 Views of the weekend following West Virginia's narrow 28-23 win over the Bearcats:

10. The Gold Rush from the Louisville game looked like it traveled to Cincinnati. Several sections in the stadium were completely dominated with Mountaineer colors. It was great to have a scaled down version of The Pride of West Virginia at the game as well – WVU needed everyone it could get to pull out this victory.

9. Intuitively, there is something that I really like about Nippert Stadium, and it finally struck me. It reminds me of Old Mountaineer Field. The stadiums are about the same size and configuration, and have that old-time feel. Nippert in positioned in the campus with buildings overlooking it similar to the way Woodburn Hall overlooked Old Mountaineer Field. Even the press box looks like the press box in Old Mountaineer Field.

8. The wins over Louisville and Cincinnati weren't things of beauty by any stretch, but the road to the National Championship isn't a beauty contest. If you recall, Ohio State's road to the title in 2002 included several ugly regular season wins. Decisions over Cincinnati (23-19), Wisconsin (19-14), Penn State (13-7), Purdue (10-6), Illinois (23-16) and Michigan (14-9) weren't masterpieces. The goal is survive and move on.

7. West Virginia's first down cheer has really turned into a tradition. There was a group of about 10-15 fans in the mid to late 80's that started this cheer. From my vantage point it was in the upper rows of Section 130. I might be off a section, but that section of the stadium is where it all started. It is fun to watch West Virginia fans on the road games anticipating the first down call of visiting announcers, which always vary, and figuring out how to initiate WVU's unique cheer.

6. West Virginia is really going to miss Owen Schmitt in more ways than one. There isn't a prettier site than Owen catching the ball out of the backfield and rumbling for yards. Fullbacks have been practically cult heroes at West Virginia, but Owen has taken it to a new level. Since my freshman year in 1982, my favorite fullbacks include: 5. Craig Taylor (played for the Cincinnati Bengals and never lost a yard while at West Virginia),

4. Rico Tyler,

3. Ron Wolfley (he always found big holes up the middle),

2. Mo Fofana (he had two carries while at West Virginia, but he'll always be remembered for his toughness and in particular his crushing block in 2002 against a Boston College defender)

1. Schmitt.

This was pretty tough call as we had some other great fullbacks including Wes "The Express" Ours.

5. Pat McAfee is punting as well as any Mountaineer I've ever seen. Pat can bomb punts like his 71-yarder tonight, or kill them inside the 10-yard line. We've seen punters at West Virginia who have had strong legs like Todd Sauerbrun, who had a 48.4 punting average and we've seen some punters with some touch, but not both. Pat is a true special teams weapon.

4. It is really unfortunate that Pat White fumbled twice late in the game as it took some of the shine off a really super performance by the team and Pat himself. This is the second consecutive week where West Virginia has had its foot on the opponents' proverbial throat and let them get back up.

3. It was good to see Steve Slaton getting 23 carries for 103 yards. It appeared that Cincinnati's defense was starting to tire with the constant attack of Pat White and Steve Slaton in the second half, and the Mountaineer offensive running game was dominant. The fumbles, however, didn't allow us to cash in on these performances. When Steve gets fewer than 20 carries he is hard for this young offensive line and Steve to get any rhythm, but his 23 totes for 103 yards were a solid performance

2. Coming back to Cincinnati during the week that Joe Nuxhall passed away really hits home. I've been a Cincinnati Reds fan since 1972, but I began listening to Reds' radio in 1974. That, coincidently, is when Marty Brennaman joined the radio broadcast team and Nuxhall in the Reds' booth. I lived in Cincinnati as a youngster and then I moved Follansbee, W. Va., where a Wheeling channel picked up the Reds. There was nothing better then listening to Rose, Morgan, Perez, Concepcion and Bench taking on Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey and the hated Los Angeles Dodgers. Marty would wrap up a win with his famous, "And this one belongs to the Reds!" and Joe would conclude the post game show with, "This is the old left-hander, rounding third and heading for home." Even today I have a Marty and Joe bobblehead in my study.

Greats like Nuxhall and West Virginia's Jack Fleming added so much flavor and color to a broadcast. I'm now 43 years old and I believe that my generation was very fortunate to enjoy listening to sports on the radio as their primary source. You just can't replace these legends. Farewell, Nuxie.

1. Lastly: Gang, we are one victory closer to playing on January 7th in New Orleans.

See you in Morgantown next Saturday.


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