CALL US NAIVE, hopelessly hopeful, blithely optimistic, ignorantly blissful Pollyannas if you want -- and we know some of you will -- but:
We believe WVU is going to pull this off.
that when this Sunday rolls around, West Virginia University football
Mountaineers will be up there on the screen and in the conversation.
that when the TV talking heads wearing clashing jackets and ties start
to prattle incessantly on about this season's Bowl Championship Series
matchups, the Mountaineers will be among the teams getting prattled
following its exciting win over Pitt on Friday, we believe that WVU has
the feel-good momentum to help it bully up and beat South Florida on
national TV Thursday night in Tampa and that Cincinnati will put away
Connecticut on Saturday, adding the final tie-breaking ingredient over
Louisville that the 'Eers need to take the Big East's BCS bowl spot in
what may be their final year in the conference.
Of course, we could turn down the corners of our collective mouths and be patently pessimistic about it, too.
WVU has let us
down the past few years with talented teams that fell just short of a
BCS bid due to unexpected and unsettling defeats; losses that cast a
pall over the Mountaineer Nation and cast aspersions on some of its
WE COULD ADD
in the fact that WVU usually has a tough time playing South Florida and
hasn't won in Tampa since 2005, when Pat White and Steve Slaton were
mere freshmen en route to the Sugar Bowl title in a memorable defeat of
Southeastern Conference champion Georgia.
dwell on the fact that last year WVU needed South Florida to beat UConn
the final game of the year to send WVU to the BCS, and it didn't happen
as UConn won the major bowl trip on a winning 52-yard field goal in the
game's final seconds.
But we aren't thinking that way.
Not this year.
THIS YEAR, WE BELIEVE that WVU is due a break and will make the break for themselves.
that the Mountaineers -- only about a one-point favorite by oddsmakers
to beat USF -- will come up big and snap the two-game Tampa losing
streak by holding troublesome USF quarterback B.J. Daniels in check and
winning by at least 10 points to finish a 9-3 regular season.
that Cincinnati -- a nine-point favorite -- also will finish 9-3 with a
double-digit win over a UConn team that is not as good as it was a year
We believe that WVU will end up in Miami, playing one-time Big East rival Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.
We believe that WVU could beat Virginia Tech.
Just call us true believers.
TWO THINGS DO worry us a bit about Cincinnati's game against UConn.
swirling that Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones is a candidate for a
number of vacant high-profile coaching jobs across the country,
including UCLA, Illinois and North Carolina.
2-A WVU win at USF eliminates Cincinnati from a chance at the BCS bid because of its 24-21 Nov. 12 loss to WVU.
THE THOUGHT that
Jones might consider leaving for another job and/or the fact that a BCS
bowl appearance is not available both could be a distraction for
Cincinnati players and cause a letdown heading into Saturday's UConn
players will have no apparent distractions and likely will be motivated
after an impressive 40-22 win over Rutgers last Saturday.
If Cincinnati loses to UConn, the Mountaineers will be out of the BCS bowl picture even if they beat USF.
REGARDING THE PITT WIN:
It sure felt good to come from behind to beat Pitt the way WVU did. It
would have been a major pain to any WVU fan to lose to Pitt at a time
when the series may not continue for a while or even longer than that as
both programs start the process of moving in opposite directions to
three fumbles -- two of which came from fumbled punts deep in WVU
territory -- was impressive and gratifying, but let's not do that
against USF, OK?
How about USF having the three fumbles this time around?
Speaking of USF, its home city of Tampa, next-door neighbor St.
Petersburg, along with Cincinnati and Louisville, all placed in the top
16 in a Men's Health magazine survey of the saddest cities in America.
Cincinnati was 16th, with Tampa, St. Petersburg and Louisville all
finishing among the top-5 saddest cities, along with Detroit and
INSIGHT: No wonder they're sad -- they're still in the Big East.
A reliable source reports that 1980s star WVU safeties Tim Agee and Bo
Orlando have contacted WVU exile and new University of Arizona head
football coach Rich Rodriguez to state their interest in coaching
defensive backs for the Wildcats.
We have never met Bo Orlando, but we have gotten to know Mr. Agee a bit
in recent years and think he would be a good hire. He's smart, focused,
a good guy with charisma and class who can be serious-minded and
disarmingly funny in the same paragraph, a guy who is driven to succeed
and can relate to people, all qualities that would serve anyone well in
WVU BASKETBALL IS
going into full swing, starting with a nationally televised game at
Mississippi State on Saturday, followed by a Dec. 8 game against Kansas
State in Wichita.
comfortable win over Akron gave WVU a 4-1 record on the young season,
with the meat of a schedule rated as one of the toughest, if not the
toughest, looming ahead.
how many young and inexperienced players head coach Bob Huggins has on
his roster, winning 18 games this season would in our opinion represent
one of the best coaching jobs in Huggins' career.
year, watch out, as young players such as guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary
Browne gain valuable experience and highly regarded transfers Aaric
Murray and Juwan Staten become eligible after being held out a season
due to transfer rules.