Game No. 3 on my college football journey saw me in West Virginia this past weekend. I was fortunate enough to see one of the most exciting games I have ever witnessed in the Mountaineers’ 70-63 win over the Baylor Bears, and that’s why we are starting with the third game, not the first. All in all, the Mounties set seven offensive records in the contest! Below is my game day experience in Morgantown and some interesting facts about the football program.
HISTORY………….West Virginia plays all home games at Mountaineer Field, Milan Puskar Stadium. The Mounties played their first game in 1891: a 76-0 loss to Washington-Jefferson. The game was played in a converted cow pasture. The Mounties have had only one undefeated season and that was back in 1922. They have never won a national championship. They have won 15 conference championships over the years, including seven Big East Titles. This is the first year the program has been a member of the Big 12 Conference after moving from the Big East.Dana Holgorsen is now the head coach and is in his second year. Many big name coach’s have walked the sidelines in Morgantown, including Bobby Bowden (’70-’75), Don Nehlen (’80-’00), and Rich Rodriguez (’01-’07).
TRADITION…….. “Pride of the West Virginia marching band” The band is famous for the flying WV formation performed before the start of each game. The playing of “Take me home country roads” resonates through the stadium. The song is also played at the end of the game as everyone stands and sings. The mascot, “The Mountaineer,” made his first appearance in 1934. He fires a musket at the beginning of the game as he leads the team onto the field, as well as after each score. The Mountaineer is chosen each year by the student body and can actually be a woman. The student section is known as the “Mountie Maniacs”.
THE FANS……….I was truly captivated by the fans. I’ve been to quite a few stadiums across the country but have never seen tailgating quite like this. There were thousands of fans setting up tailgate parties right outside of the stadium. It was one BIG party going on! The fans were gracious as I moved around from one party to another sampling food and refreshing drinks. The fans were ramped-up over an undefeated start, and their inaugural game in the Big 12 Conference I was also surprised at how many Baylor fans actually made the trip. They were welcomed with open arms and could be seen partying with the West Virginia fans.
THE GAME……. It was surreal. Baylor took an early 7-0 lead and the teams traded touchdowns for the first half. In the second half, West Virginia jumped out to a 21 point lead before the Bears came roaring back. The Mounties were able to run out the clock and claim a 70-63 victory. I was there to watch the West Virginia offense put up seven school records! The following records were broken: Geno Smith passed for 656 yards, 45 pass completions, 8 TD Passes, all records! Stedman Bailey caught five TD passes, and had 303 yards receiving! Tavon Austin also caught 14 balls, another team record. The Mounties had 807 total yards, yet another team record. All in all, the two teams combined for over 1,500 yards of total offense; it was amazing. Immediately after the game, the crowd stood hand-in-hand singing the old John Denver tune, “Take Me Home Country Roads,” while Geno Smith and Baylor quarterback Nick Florence embraced at midfield. A job well done by both quarterbacks!
- Records crash in Geno Smith masterpiece (espn.go.com)