It took a long time but coach Frank Beamer and his West Virginia Hoakies won their first ever BCS Bowl game 20-7 in an upset victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats on New Year’s Day (1-1-09) in Miami at the 2008 BCS Orange Bowl.
You can credit the Hoakie defense which came up huge with 4 interceptions, a defensive front that limited the Virginia Tech running game to 71 yards on 21 carries (a 3.3 average), and a crucial stuff of Cincy quarterback Tony Pike on a 4th-and-goal attempt with 7:35 left to play. Virginia Tech’s defense was rated No. 7 nationally and now you know why.
The BCS win was so sweet for the Hoakies because it was the first for the players and their coach. It also was the first win for Atlantic Coast Conference competitors since 1999 when Florida State beat Virginia Tech when the Hoakies were in the Big East Conference. The ACC had been 0-8 since Florida State’s BCS victory.
Last year Virginia Tech lost to Kansas, 24-21, in the BCS Orange Bowl and that was another reason West Virginia was partying into the New Year’s Day night.
By beating No. 12-ranked Cincinnati, No. 21-ranked Virginia Tech joined Southern California and Texas as the only schools to win 10 games in each of the past 5 seasons. The Hoakies finished their year at 10-4 while Cincinnati was 11-3 following the loss.
The West Virginia defense benefited from its offense that controlled the ball for almost 40 minutes. Freshman running back Darren Evans ran 28 times for 153 yards (a 5.4 average) and scored a touchdown. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Cincinnati led 7-0 after the 1st quarter and then was held scoreless the last 3 quarters as the Hoakies put up 20 unanswered points.
Junior Tony Pike, who was not even on Cincinnati’s 3-deep chart at the beginning of the season, went on to become an all-Big East pick (the Big East was not exactly the Big 12 in quarterback play this year). His inexperience, however, showed up at this level of play. You cannot give up 4 picks and expect to be competitive against a team that has won at least 10 games a year for the last 5 years.
Cincy’s junior wide receiver Marshwan “Marty” Gilyard did his part by catching 7 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, and compiling 255 all-purpose yards; but he alone could not prevent West Virginia from breaking the Bearcats’ 6-game winning streak.
Some of the luster has apparently faded for the annual Orange Bowl match-ups as more than 15,700+ sold tickets went unused; that is a lot of empty seats for a BCS game.
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley