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2008 BCS Orange Bowl – Frank Beamer & West Virginia Win Their First BCS Bowl Game, 20-7

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 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats on New Years Day ( 1-1-09) in Miami at the 2008 BCS Orange. Bowl.

You can credit the Hoakie defense which was huge with 4 interceptions, a defensive front that limited Virginia Tech’s running game to 71 yards on 21 carries (a 3.3 average) and a crucial quarterback trick of Cincy Tony Pike on a 4th-and-goal attempt with 7:35 left. Virginia Tech’s defense was ranked No. 7 nationally and now you know why.

The BCS victory was so sweet for the Hoakies because it was the first for the players and their coach. It was also the Atlantic Coast Conference contenders’ first victory since 1999, when Florida State defeated Virginia Tech when the Hoakies were in the Big East Conference. The ACC was 0-8 since Florida State’s BCS win.

Last year, Virginia Tech lost to Kansas, 24-21, in the BCS Orange Bowl and that was another reason West Virginia was celebrating on New Year’s Eve.

In 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 after the loss.

West Virginia’s defense took advantage of their offense which controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Freshman running back Darren Evans rushed 28 times for 153 yards (5.4 average) and scored a touchdown. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Cincinnati led 7-0 after the 1st quarter, then was held scoreless the last 3 quarters as the Hoakies went 20 unanswered.

Junior Tony Pike, who wasn’t even on Cincinnati’s 3-deep board at the start of the season, became an all-Big East pick (the Big East wasn’t exactly the Big 12 at quarterback this year ). His inexperience showed up at this level of play though. You can’t give up 4 picks and expect to be competitive against a team that has won at least 10 games a year for the past 5 years.

Cincy junior wide receiver Marshwan “Marty” Gilyard did his part, catching 7 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, and compiling 255 all-purpose yards; but he alone couldn’t stop West Virginia from snapping the Bearcats’ 6-game winning streak.

Some of the shine apparently faded for the annual Orange Bowl games, as more than 15,700 tickets sold went unused; that’s a lot of empty seats for a BCS game.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

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