Fiu On The Orange - West Virginia's Big Night
Posted Jan 5, 2012

Pete Fiutak on the Orange Bowl ...West Virginia's Big Night

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 Pete Fiutak

- Ohhhhhh, so that's what the West Virginia offense is supposed to look like when it's played for a full four quarters.

- Clemson was winning 17-14 in the second quarter. No one will ever remember that.

- 82 wins and three BCS wins in the last eight years. It's okay to admit that West Virginia is a superpower.

- This offense? The Big 12? Oh goodie.

- In 2013.

- And somewhere out there, Bill Stewart is just a little bit conflicted.

- At some point once the initial euphoria wears off, West Virginia fans will spend about 13 minutes tomorrow being grouchy that there isn't a playoff.

- Oregon vs. West Virginia? Please?

- In the 2 vs. 7 matchup in the What Sucks More playoff – the Clemson defense in this game vs. Train.

- SEC heads have been chirping throughout the bowl season that all these big offensive showings aren't real football because no one is playing any defense. But this is football now. Defense doesn't win championships in the NFL anymore – it's all about the passing game – and in the bowls, yeah, this really is more fun.

- No, no one wants Arena football where every game is like this, or the Alamo Bowl, but it's just more fun when the West Virginias and Clemsons of the world are trading haymakers.

- Fortunately for Clemson, it was on a niche network and about five people outside of West Virginia were watching after the end of the second quarter blood bath.

- No, Clemson didn't lose because it fell apart after the 99-yard Darwin Cook scoring play. It lost because the defense didn't take its talents to South Beach and the Mountaineers were unstoppable.

- Here's why this really matters. Voters will remember this score and the blowout, and at some point over the summer they'll find out that roughly 17 West Virginia starters will be back.

- However, either this was a freak occurrence, or West Virginia was a colossal underachiever after so many close calls in Big East play, the 49-23 loss to Syracuse, and the home loss to Louisville. It can't be both.

- And no, really, Clemson isn't this bad.

- But the defense might be.

- After a night of dealing with the Monday Night Football crew, how great were Dick Enberg and Don Criqui?

- Geno Smith got all day to work, and he made every right decision. Andrew Luck might have been brilliant, Robert Griffin and Keith Price were outstanding, and other quarterbacks have come up with great games, but no one was more in control of his offense than Smith.

- Think of it this way, Clemson fans. This is a plus. This game really doesn't matter – everyone forgets that it's not a playoff, it's only an exhibition – and there's a tremendous young core coming back. This is what we call the motivating factor.

- Michigan State players spent an entire year using their embarrassing 49-7 Capital One Bowl loss to Alabama as a rallying point. Really, Tiger fans, this might be a net positive.

- Here's the one big concern for Clemson, though. Is Dabo Swinney really a big time head coach? The Tigers lost four of their final six games and the defense went bye-bye.