Game Day Arrives, WVU Closes Football Season in Miami - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Day Arrives, WVU Closes Football Season in Miami

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MIAMI, Fla. -

It was as though South Florida were paying homage to the hills of West Virginia, bringing out uncomfortably chilly weather just as fans of the Mountaineers flocked to the area.

After a week practicing in heat that brought beads of sweat even from a seated position, the WVU football team is ready for a game that may bear more resemblance to a fall evening at Milan Puskar Stadium.

"We play in that," head coach Dana Holgorsen said in his final press conference before the game.

The Marriott Harbor Beach concierge assured fans and media alike that Tuesday's temperatures were "the coldest it's been all year," which is assumed to mean the past 12 months, not the three days of 2012.

But just three days into the new year, the players and coaches are finally as fired up as they've been – despite the plummeting mercury in their thermometers – to play their first game in over a month.

They've sung all the LMFAO and Will Smith tunes they can recall lyrics to and seen enough "celebrities" in their hotel lobby to understand the Orange Bowl is treating them right.

A week in the sun isn't why Holgorsen brought his Mountaineers to Miami. A night under the lights is. And that night is hours away.

For quarterback Geno Smith, it's the opportunity to play at a stadium that was nearly close enough growing up to cast a shadow on his home.

As he'd sit on his mother's car and watch the action from the massive video screen just blocks away, he might have considered what it would be like to have the skills he saw from those athletes who were larger than life from his angle.

Years later, his successful season has him playing on that field in front of friends and family that don't have to watch from outside the gates.

A group of redshirt seniors remember the atmosphere in a dome that made their freshman year so special, but they also certainly remember wishing they had an active role in getting a desert win. Now, the roof is gone and the sand limited to beaches, and for many of them, the view of the field will be far different than it was in 2008.

The final practice is in their past. The emotions of playing their final game are beginning to brew as they desperately attempt to suppress them and use them for motivation and for fuel when they sprint out of the last tunnel to welcome them as Mountaineers.

A first-year head coach hopes to deliver his team with its third BCS victory and an elusive 10-win season after a fall filled with both promising and perplexing performances.

A bowl full of oranges would serve as the springboard into winter workouts and spring drills to lay the foundation for what lies ahead as the next season approaches. And with the all-but-official move to the Big 12 a court case or two away, West Virginia can leave the Big East with the parting gift of BCS success.

This day is one that many WVU fans who made the trek to South Beach feel is overdue. They believe it should have happened in any one of the past three seasons, but instead, they've fallen short.

The bowl destination is already superior. The outcome, two-straight bowl losses, is what the Mountaineers truly seek to change – the chance to pick up double digit wins that have eluded them since that last trip to the BCS when their contributions were far inferior to what they are now.

Whether you're watching from a chilled Sun Life Stadium or snowed in with your television in the Mountain State, today is the day that will determine the taste in your mouth until August rolls back around.

The Mountaineers are hoping you like citrus.

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