By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
As electronics prices fall, making the home theater an affordable option for more and more people, the temptation to stay in to watch the West Virginia University Mountaineers face off against Clemson probably got pretty strong Wednesday night.
The winds were icy and the ground slick, but a brave few ventured out to watch the Orange Bowl at Fairmont’s River City Grill.
“The weather’s not helping,” said Joe Saporito, manager. The place is usually packed, he said, but not even the allure of a bowl game was enough to coax the normal crowd out.
The bar’s typical exuberance was replaced by a quieter, more personal atmosphere as patrons watched the game intently. River City Grill has eight TVs throughout the building, but watchers were crowded into one room to watch it together.
WVU fans are known for their optimism, but predictions for the game were cautious.
“If (the Mountaineers) play strong in the first half, they might have a chance,” Greg Musgrove said. “They’ve been too inconsistent.”
Bryan Maze, a frequent patron at River City Grill, also forecast a Clemson win. He said Clemson’s quarterback, Tajh Boyd, is an incredible player and an asset to the team.
Saporito favored the Mountaineers.
“I don’t think it will be a high-scoring game,” he said, but he believed that WVU would come through in the end.
WVU did come through, in record-smashing fashion.
“The good thing about bowl games is ... that any team can take it,” Derek Daniel said.
Daniel and Maze said they prefer to watch WVU games at the River City Grill because of the atmosphere.
Alfonso Martinez, a local worker, said he started watching the Mountaineers because their colors, blue and gold, are the same as his local team in Mexico. While American football is not an exceptionally popular sport in Mexico, he has come to enjoy the sport and following WVU.
“I hope they win,” he said.
The weather may have had as much influence on attitude as on attendance. The Mountaineers played phenomenally in the first half, posting a tremendous halftime lead contrary to many gloomy predictions prior to the start of the game.
But at the end of the night, it didn’t matter how cold it was outside, where the fans were or how many people were watching the game together.
Most fans agreed that no matter what, it’s great to be a Mountaineer.