There was bound to be a blowout at some point and West Virginia proved it was more than willing to buck the trend in Wednesday’s Orange Bowl.
Geno Smith tied a bowl game record with six touchdown passes to lead the Mountaineers to a runaway 70-33 victory over Clemson. West Virginia’s 70 points were the most ever scored in a bowl game. They scored five touchdowns in the second quarter alone, including three in the final 2:29 of the first half. It was just that kind of night in Miami.
“Never could we image we’d put up 70 points,” Smith said.
No one did. In Las Vegas, the over-under on total points for the game by both teams was set in the 60s. By halftime, the Mountaineers already led 49-20.
The game appeared destined for a back-and-forth shootout along the lines of Oregon’s wild Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin, but the Mountaineers’ defense — yes, there was defense in this game — turned the tide.
With Clemson inches away from crossing the goal line to re-take the lead early in the second quarter, West Virginia’s Darwin Cook stripped the ball from Tigers running back Andre Ellington and didn’t stop running until he’d gone 99 yards, through the end zone and flattened the Orange Bowl’s mascot, Obie. The Mountaineers never looked back.
“I always envisioned making great plays,” Cook said. “If you think it will happen, it will happen.”
Smith threw for 401 yards and six touchdowns, junior wide receiver Tavon Austin caught 11 passes for 117 yards and four scores, and Shawne Alston rushed for a pair of touchdowns on a night when everything went right for the guys in white and everything went wrong for the guys in orange.
Fresh off a 38-10 rout of Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, Clemson was left stunned by how quickly the game got out of hand. With the win, West Virginia improved to 3-0 in BCS bowl games.
“It was like a virus,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said.
Not surprisingly, West Virginia’s blowout didn’t do much in the way of TV ratings...
Big blowout = tiny ratings. Orange Bowl on pace to post lowest BCS rating ever. Overnight is 4.5, -37% from 11's Orange Bowl. SBD has story.— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 5, 2012
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