West Virginia Runs Over Oklahoma
by Mike Mitchell
January 3, 2008
West Virginia ran over Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl and Bill Stewart became the only interim head coach to lead his team to victory in a bowl game this year. Navy, Texas A&M, Houston, UCLA and Georgia Tech all lost with interim head coaches.
Pat White threw for 176 yards and 2 TD's, and ran for 150 more yards as the Mountaineers handed the Sooners their second straight Fiesta Bowl defeat. Oklahoma lost 43-42 in overtime to Boise State in this game last year. The Sooners have dropped four straight BCS bowl games. West Virginia has won three consecutive bowl games, two of which were BCS games.
Oklahoma is 0-3 in Fiesta Bowls since beating Wyoming 41-7 in 1976. The Sooners lost to Arizona State in 1982.
Noel Devine ran for 105 yards and 2 TD's in place of Steve Slaton who left the game with a leg injury in the first quarter.
Super freshman quarterback Sam Bradford braved constant pressure from the West Virginia defense to complete 21-of-33 passes for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Oklahoma offense generated over 400 yards.
The Oklahoma defense, however, could do nothing to slow down a potent Mountaineer attack that even saw 260-pound senior fullback Owen Schmitt rumble 57 yards for a touchdown. His longest run in three previous touchdowns this season came from 7 yards out.
West Virginia took the lead on its opening drive with a field goal and never trailed.
Devine had just 12 carries, but his two touchdowns were huge. The 17-yard score in the 3rd quarter put West Virginia up 27-15 after the Sooners had cut a 14-point halftime deficit to 20-15. His 65-yard touchdown run with 9:21 left in the game sealed the win and closed out the scoring for both teams. That last score came just two plays after Oklahoma had trimmed the WVU lead to 41-28 with more than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Bill Stewart was Rich Rodriguez' associate head coach. "Stew" was appointed interim head coach on December 19, two days after Rodriguez was introduced as the new head coach at Michigan. A permanent replacement has yet to be named, but Stewart is a West Virginia native and has openly stated he wants the job.
The decision by Rodriguez to leave his alma mater was a punch in the stomach and caused tremendous animosity and bitterness.
After the game, it all became bittersweet.