Mountaineer Football Is Back

In the third quarter of Saturday's convincing win, I looked at a group of friends that I have attended games with for years and said, 'Mountaineer football is back.'

The group knew exactly what I meant. Although the size of the crowds has been disappointing, the electricity in Mountaineer Field the last couple of weeks resembles the crowds in 1988 and 1993, the glory days of Mountaineer football.

At one point last season, going to games was no longer fun. Going to a Mountaineer home game meant sitting and listening to everyone complain about how bad the team was and then seeing an almost empty stadium by halftime.

This year, it's different. Slowly, Mountaineer fans are beginning to believe once again. The talk now is of upsetting top 25 teams, instead of whether or not we can beat Rutgers. The talk is of the tremendous job this coaching staff is doing instead of how many years we should give them to turn this program around. The talk now is of planning a trip to a bowl game instead of the upcoming basketball season. Confidence, instead of negativity, now fills the bleachers at Mountaineer Field. Heading to the stadium on Saturdays is once again a fun experience.

Success has often been defined as more achievement than expectation. If this is the case, this Mountaineer team is one of the most successful teams in the country. Almost nobody picked the gold and blue to win more than five or six games. This Mountaineer football squad has already won seven with two games left on the schedule. This hard working group of Mountaineers, however, is not finished with their mission quite yet. There is a great deal more to be accomplished.

The dominating performance on Saturday guarantees West Virginia a bowl game and locks WVU into at least a forth place finish in the Big East. This team, who was picked to finish only ahead of Rutgers and Temple in the conference, is still alive for the championship. So much for the "experts."

A few weeks ago, everyone thought that WVU's chances against Virginia Tech were been slim. We would have been discussing Tech's strong running game, their amazing run defense, and the amazing win streak that the team is on. A great deal has changed, however, in the last couple of weeks.

Somewhere on the way to their predicted Big East title showdown with Miami, the Hokies stumbled and lost two in a row. Their rushing defense has shown some vulnerability and their own rushing attack has been shut down. Suddenly, the Mountaineers seem to match up pretty favorably with the Hokies.

In order for the Mountaineers to pull off the upset, they must stick with their strengths. Avon and "Q" must show the country that they are the Big East's best tandem of backs and continue their dominance. Defensively, West Virginia must, once again, shut down the opponents running game and make them pass. Hokie quarterback Bryan Randall took a major step last week in proving that he can throw the football, but I still believe that the Mountaineers' best shot is to make him throw.

A Wednesday night match up in Blacksburg is a tough task for any team, but don't count this group of Mountaineers out. The team is playing with a great deal of confidence and will go into Lane Stadium believing that they can win.

It is important that Mountaineer fans make the trip and show their support. If we can get on the board early, we can take the Hokie fans out of the game and make the players and the television audience notice the loyal fans wearing gold and blue instead of the Hokie faithful. Let's Go Mountaineers!


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