Sallee - The Fumble Heard 'Round The World
Posted Jan 5, 2012

Barrett Sallee on Darwin Cook's 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the Orange Bowl.

Orange Bowl - West Virginia 70, Clemson 33
| Cirminiello - WVU's Big O Moment
Fiutak - WVU's Big Night
Sallee - THE Fumble
Zemek - At Least Clemson Won Something
Harrison - Where's the D In The BCS?

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me via Twitter: @BarrettSallee

"Could have, would have and should have" don't exist in college football. Those terms are crutches used by fans of teams that often times didn't execute properly, or otherwise Clemsoned a college football game.

With that said, if Darwin Cook doesn't return an Andre Ellington fumble 99 yards to the house early in the second quarter of West Virgina's beat down of Clemson, the Orange bowl could have, would have and should have completely different.

I know, I know...the Mountaineers hung 70 on Clemson and clearly demonstrated that they were the superior team. I get that; and you're right; but the momentum gained from that play can't be overlooked.

If Ellington holds on to the ball and the Tigers score a touchdown, they would have been up 24-21 and then who knows what kind of break could go there way. Would WVU have gone on a roll and scored 35 of the next 38 points? I doubt it. The momentum that the Mountaineers gained from that play was almost tangible; and there's not a more dangerous coach in America when things get rolling than Dana Holgorsen.

Was it a beat down? Yes. Is West Virginia the better team? No doubt about it. Would this game have gotten out of hand without that 99-yard Darwin Cook fumble return for a touchdown? Not necessarily.

That's the kind of play that can shape not only game outcomes, but futures of programs.