But the Mountaineers, riding high on a no-mistakes, ball control offense and an opportunistic defense, did to Pitt what they had done to VT a week earlier – find a way to win. Walt Harris's Panthers came into the game confident they could shut down WVU's running attack, and once again, the boys from Morgantown proved their opponent wrong.
Avon Coburne finished his finest regular season by going over 100 yards for the ninth time this season and topping the 1500 yard mark. Along the way, he passed Amos Zereoue to become West Virginia's all-time leading rusher.
But in the end it was the "bend but don't break" defense that again saved the day. Four times the Mountaineer "D" took the ball away in their own territory, and on 4th and 13 with 19 seconds left, Ben Collins batted down Rod Rutherford's pass to seal the victory.
So, with the glass cleat firmly wedged on their dainty feet, the Mountaineers now wait to see to which dance they are going to be invited. No matter how the bowl picture plays out, however, West Virginia are certain to be the Belles of the Bowl.
The triple barrel shotgun – Once again, the trio of Cobourne, Wilson, and Marshall proved the old adage about being able to stop the run if you but enough men in the box might not be so true. Rasheed was especially versatile, passing for a TD, running for a TD, and nearly getting a TD reception on a 25 yard catch from Danny Embick, a magnificent trick play.
Dan's the Man – It is wonderful to see Danny Embick getting a chance to contribute on the field, and the three plays he has participated in during the last two games have been huge. Hats off to the coaching staff for getting him involved, and hats off to Danny for making his opportunities count.
Hail the King – Brian might not ever take that club off his hand with the way he has been playing lately. He, Collins, and Davis have done what seniors are supposed to do, step up in the big games and make the plays.
Fitzgerald who? – Frankly, I was mystified by the coverage (or lack thereof) on Fitzgerald. Anyone who watched the Pitt-Miami game could see that Rutherford had tunnel vision for this kid, yet it seemed like he was running free all day. A lot of credit goes to Harris and copmpany for calling plays that shook him loose, but he had WAY too much open space after the catches. I was stunned we weren't doubling him on every play.
Punting – No other way to put it, the punting game has gone south. We averaged 23 yards a punt – that would cause a high school kicker to lose his job. We can't blame the wind, because Pitt averaged over 43 yards per kick. To be perfectly blunt, if Embick can hit a consistent 35 yarder with hang time, I'd say the job is his. The opposition would at least have to respect his arm and play punt safe, and at this point, we don't have much to lose.
It wasn't a pretty win, or a dominating win. But a few weeks ago I said we better get used to this team winning ugly. And frankly, I'll take 9 or 10 ugly wins just about any time I can get them.
Needless to say, what this staff and team accomplished has just been phenomenal, and in my mind, I have no doubt who the coach of year in college football is. Congratulations to all the Mountaineers, you've given us a season to remember. Now let's get one more!