We’re assuming that latter portion of the headline holds up the way West Virginia admins are insisting it will.
The first half, though, held true and No. 23 West Virginia shattered just about every Orange Bowl and BCS record that has ever existed as part of their 70-33 beat down of No. 14 Clemson.
Geno Smith‘s 6 passing touchdowns — four of which were little flips on fly sweeps that count as passes — and 401 passing yards broke Orange Bowl records. Smith’s six TD’s also tied an all-bowl record. Tavon Austin‘s four receiving touchdowns — again, three of which were those little direct flips from Smith — were also an Orange Bowl record.
West Virginia’s 70 points were an all-bowl record, beating out Baylor’s Alamo Bowl win just last week.
Not bad for a team many didn’t think should have been in the BCS — myself included.
But the Mountaineers didn’t make it look that easy at first. WVU fell behind early when Clemson running back Andre Ellington ripped off 68-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. WVU and Clemson exchanged scores in what looked like another bowl shootout until the second quarter.
But it wasn’t until WVU safety Darwin Cook took an Ellington fumble 99 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter that the Mountaineers began to take over.
Oh yeah, that fumble recovery for a touchdown was a record too.
Then, quarterback Tajh Boyd committed two lethal turnovers deep in his team’s own territory that led to two more WVU touchdowns. The Mountaineers scored 35 second-quarter touchdowns and took a 49-20 lead into the half. But it was that Cook fumble recovery for a touchdown that set the tone; the Mountaineers outscored Clemson (10-4) 42-17 after that moment.
WVU didn’t cut the Tigers any slack in the second half and rolled into Year 2 of the Dana Holgorsen era — and the Big 12, barring legal holdups — with style.
I’d say Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas is happy right now.
The Mountaineers will have Smith and a solid group of receivers back next year. Combine that with a 10-win season and a spanking of a Top 15 opponent on national TV, and WVU has a one-way ticket to a ton of preseaon kudos in 2012.
Shoot, they may not need a defensive coordinator like Jeff Casteel, who, it should be noted, did as good of a job of slowing All-Americans Sammy Watkins and Dwayne Allen as anybody this season.
It could be a matter of days before Casteel moves on to Arizona with former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez as he’s been rumored to do. If he does, WVU has lost one of the best DC’s in the business.
Not that defense is much of priority in the Big 12 anyway.
If WVU does begin Big 12 play next season like they think they will, they’ll take with them the resume as one of only a handful of college football programs to win the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls.