Bowl in Florida is WVU’s reward for 10-2 season
From the wind-blown bluffs of Morgantown to the Russell Athletic Bowl in sun-flavored Orlando will be West Virginia’s reward for a 10-2 season that was closed last Saturday with a too-close-for-comfort, 24-21, win over Baylor.
It was a cold afternoon/evening in Morgantown and Puskar Stadium had only 49,229 people watching the Mountaineers try to accomplish the ninth season in school history that had at least 10 wins.
Baylor was losing for the sixth straight time . . . West Virginia was winning its way to central Florida and a Wednesday, December 28 date against the Miami Hurricanes, a team that completed an 8-4 season with four consecutive wins under first-year Coach Mark Richt.
It will be West Virginia’s 35th bowl appearance and fifth in six years under Dana Holgorsen.
Holgorsen was given a five-year contract extension after wading through speculation about his job security that came as early as 2015.
That 2015 season was climaxed by a one-point win in the Cactus Bowl in Arizona.
Holgorsen and company will not be using the game film of the close win over Baylor as a training exercise or how-to-do-it learning session for the team.
But Justin Crawford did run for 209 yards, giving him 1,168 rushing yards for the season and an electrifying 7.4 yards per carry.
Skyler Howard was limited to only 11 completions in 26 throws that gained just 111 yards, but did account for two touchdowns.
Darrien Howard recovered two fumbles, the second of which finally buried Baylor because only 26 seconds remained in the getting-colder-by-the minute game.
Now comes Miami, a top-flight competitor when it was in the Big East with West Virginia.
Coach Richt is back at his alma mater after many successful years at Georgia. His season became tolerable for the often critical followers of Hurricane football when Miami swept through its last four games, winning all its conference tests in the last month.
The two teams have not played since 2003.
West Virginia last played in Orlando’s Russell Athletic Bowl in 2010 when Coach Bill Stewart’
s team fell to a Russell Wilson-quarterbacked North Carolina State team.
Swaying palm trees, Disney World, watches for the players, free clothing of all kinds, sumptuous meals every evening . . .
This is a reward for a special season.