5 Thoughts - 2008 Fiesta Bowl
West Virginia QB Pat White
West Virginia QB Pat White
Posted Jan 3, 2008

If the Heisman voting was done after the fact, would Pat White win the prize? How much does Stoops miss Stoops? The disparity between Oklahoma at home and on the road, the big game from Bill Stewart, and the shocker of the bowl season in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl 5 Thoughts.

5 Thoughts - Fiesta Bowl

West Virginia 48 ... Oklahoma 28

West Virginia 48 ... Oklahoma 28
- 2008 CFN Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Preview
2008 Fiesta Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More
Fiesta Bowl Stream of Consciousness Quarter By Quarter Game Notes

By Pete Fiutak   

1. I started my campaign to get the Heisman vote tallied after the bowl games after Vince Young came up with his all-timer of a performance to beat Reggie Bush and USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, and I continued it after Troy Smith stunk it up in the 2007 BCS Championship loss to Florida. Now, I respectfully ask the good people of the Heisman committee to let us all vote again; I want to change my vote.

Tim Tebow wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t special in the loss to Michigan. Besides, that 20 rushing touchdown, 20 passing touchdown thing instantly lost its luster after Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour accomplished the same mark after his big game in the Motor City Bowl. Arkansas RB Darren McFadden ran for a pedestrian 105 yards on 21 carries in a loss to Missouri, while Tony Temple ripped off 281 yards and four scores for the Tigers. In the same game, Chase Daniel completed 12 of 29 passes for 136 yards and an interception. Colt Brennan will have post traumatic stress disorder after getting beaten, battered and bruised by the Georgia defense.

While LSU and Ohio State still have to play, the Post-Bowl Heisman vote would likely go to West Virginia QB Pat White, who ran for 150 yards and threw for 176 and two scores as he led a Steve Slaton-less Mountaineer attack to over 500 yards of total offense. He was hurt and tried to gut it out against South Florida. West Virginia lost. He was hurt and tried to gut it out against Pitt. West Virginia lost. He can be called a Dennis Dixon-like MVP, one of the nation’s most outstanding players, and a star worthy of the Heisman. Now, he might be the front-runner going into next year.

2. In late 2003, Oklahoma was 12-0 and steamrolling towards a national championship. Considered the biggest, baddest program around, OU had won three straight bowl games (Orange, Cotton and Rose), a national title, and under the guidance of the Stoops boys, Bob and Mike, it had won 36 of its last 38 games. And then Mike Stoops accepted the head coaching job at Arizona. The week after, OU got blasted by Kansas State 35-7 in the Big 12 Championship, and then lost the national title to LSU in the Sugar Bowl. In 2004, OU lost the national championship with an embarrassing performance in the 55-19 loss to USC in the Orange Bowl. In 2005, OU went 8-4, and in 2006 it won the Big 12 title only to lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. And now this. Is it really that simplistic that Mike Stoops helped make all the difference when combined with his brother in the really, really big games? The program no longer has the same defensive swagger it once had, and now Bob Stoops and his staff are getting outcoached when they once dominated with a few weeks to prepare. Of course Stoops is still a top head coach, but he has to win a big bowl game or two before he earns the elite of the elite status he once held. If Mike still has problems in Tucson, the brothers might be reunited again.

3. Did Rich Rodriguez ever have a game like this? The 2006 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia was certainly out of the blue, but the Mountaineers had a tremendous first quarter and had to hang on for deal life the rest of the way. West Virginia certainly had plenty of success in the two years since, but two losses to South Florida, a loss to Louisville, and the epic home loss to Pitt kept the program from going to the national championship. Against Oklahoma, with everything going against him, Bill Stewart did something that Rodriguez wasn’t able to do over the last few years in taking the team to another level. The Mountaineers’ wins came in games they were supposed to win over the last two seasons, but Stewart was able to not just pull off the stunner against Oklahoma, he was able to get everyone focused for a four quarter domination. While college coaching is about recruiting as much as it is about game management and preparation, Stewart showed for one night that it’s possible to go from being a complete unknown to a hot commodity with one big game.

4. Outside of the West Virginia locker room, no one, absolutely no one, thought the upset over Oklahoma was possible, and that includes the Mountaineer fans. For every bowl prediction this year, we heard from at least a few fans from every predicted loser stating their case for why we were wrong. We didn’t get one from a West Virginia fan, and usually we get bombed whenever the slightest discouraging word is said about the Mountaineer program. It’s not that West Virginia fans didn’t hope and believe, and we’re certain to get hit with the “no one believed in us” after the fact chirping, but this was as stunning as they come. That’s a good thing. Things would get awfully dull without the out of left field upsets.

5. Has there ever been a bigger disparity between what a team did at home and what it did away from comfortable surroundings? For purposes of the point, call the date at Tulsa a home game since the crowd was overwhelmingly Sooner. Throw that game into the mix, and Oklahoma was 8-0 in front of the home folk winning by a combined score of 430 to 130, or an average of roughly 54 to 16. In the other six games, OU was 3-3 outscoring its opponents by total of 162 to 154, or an average of 27 to 26, with a near miss against Iowa State and losses to Colorado and Texas Tech. The road slate, and the neutral site dates, had most of the big games, but a team as dominant as OU was at home still was mystifyingly off when it had to travel.