The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 27, 2011

Brawl afterglow short with USF next

WVU focusing on Bulls, not outside factors

MORGANTOWN — The countdown is at one and West Virginia University, despite never reaching expectations, plays a rare Thursday night in South Florida with a chance to share the Big East championship and take down the BCS bid to the Orange Bowl.

This week everything fell the Mountaineers’ way. Somehow they regrouped in the second half on Friday night at home against Pitt in what may be the last of the Backyard Brawls and rallied to win, 21-20, on the booming foot of punter Corey Smith and the savagery of a 10-sack defense.

Then on Saturday, the University of Cincinnati, playing without quarterback Zach Collaros, turned running back Isaiah Pead loose at Syracuse and defeated the Orange, 30-13. That set up this scenario for the final weekend of the regular season:

Louisville is in at 5-2, its Big East season over. WVU and Cincinnati both need to win to finish 5-2.

If both win, then WVU will get the bid because each team has lost to the other and WVU would have the highest BCS ranking. If WVU wins and Cincinnati loses, Louisville is the champion because it holds the tie-breaker over the Mountaineers in a two-way tie by virtue of its 38-35 victory on Nov. 6.

And, if WVU loses and Cincinnati wins, Cincinnati has the tie-breaker over Louisville.

But WVU coach Dana Holgorsen swears that none of that has factored into anything in the planning or playing of the Backyard Brawl or will factor into the events this week.

“For second week in a row, after dropping the game to Louisville, the theme has been to play with as much energy as you can muster and make sure you get excited when good things happen and make sure when things don’t go exactly the way you want them to go that you don’t need to give up,” Holgorsen explained in the happy twilight of the victory over Pittsburgh.

“Give our coaches and players a tremendous amount of credit for buying into that. We had a tremendous amount of excitement on the sidelines and there were a lot of things that happened on offense that we could have quit on but didn’t,” he continued.

Indeed, the first half was a disaster, WVU being outplayed and outgunned throughout.

One wondered, perhaps, if the team noting that Louisville had won earlier in the day had soured its outlook and perhaps robbed the team of its energy in the beginning.

“I can’t speak for the players, but I’m sure they all were in their hotel rooms and watched the game. I did,” Holgorsen said. “But we didn’t talk about it. We didn’t talk about it all week.

“There’s nothing we could do to help South Florida beat Louisville or to help Cincinnati win. We can’t control any of that. We’ve been talking in here for two weeks about worrying about just what you can control, and what we could control was doing our best to beat Pitt.”

Holgorsen said he understood that the situation had to be on his players’ minds at some point.

“I’m sure that was on all their minds because everyone reads y’all’s work and watches TV and understands the situation, but the only thing we can do is focus on what we can do,” he said. “We can’t control what Cincinnati does, so we’re not going to talk about it. We’re just going to worry about winning at South Florida.”

A lot is at stake, that is for certain, and Holgorsen and his players know it.

They came into the season as the Big East favorites and anything less than the BCS bid will be considered not achieving the ultimate goal, but what is passed is past, and Holgorsen wants the Mountaineers to understand there is little or nothing they can do about it.

“We’ve got a chance to get to nine wins next week and go to a bowl game. All bowl games are fun, so we’ll let all that sort itself out and try to get to 10 wins, which would be a pretty good season,” he said.

Especially if that 10th one can come in the Orange Bowl.

NOTES: WVU award winners for the Pitt game were offensive player, Stedman Bailey; defensive player, Julian Miller; special teams player, Corey Smith; offensive scout team player, Connor Arlia; defensive scout team player, Taige Redman. … Pitt has to win next week against Syracuse to finish at .500 in the first year under former Mountaineer assistant Todd Graham.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos