West Virginia – Trivia you need to Know

 – So far in 2009, West Virginia is a completely different team than when Pat White was the offensive leader. Through three games in 2009, with Jarrett Brown at quarterback, the Mountaineers are ranked 15th in the nation in passing offense. In 2008, West Virginia was ranked 104th in passing offense. Overall, the offense has moved up from 59th in the nation last season in total yards per game to 12th in the nation (485 yds/game to date).

– The major negative difference for WVU, at least so far in 2009, is the 116th ranking in turnover margin. In 2008, the Mountaineers were ranked 100 spots higher – 16th – in that category.

 – Even with explosive quarterback Pat White in the lineup, the 2008 Mountaineers were statistically significantly worse in the first season under head coach Bill Stewart than in the last season under Rich Rodriguez. Total points fell over two touchdowns per game (39.1 ppg to 24.5 ppg), while total offense fell almost 100 yards per game (456.2 yards/game to 360.4).

 – Before heading off to Florida State to resurrect that program, Bobby Bowden was the head coach at West Virginia for six seasons.  As Mountaineer head coach from 1970-75, Bowden posted a 42-26 record, including two Peach Bowl appearances.  Bowden’s best team was his last, in 1975, when West Virginia went 9-3, including a 13-10 Peach Bowl win over North Carolina State.

 – While Bobby Bowden’s name is more familiar to most college football fans, the Don Nehlen is the coach who is revered in Morgantown (it’s certainly not Rich Rodriguez!).  After Bowden left after the ‘75 season, WVU suffered through four losing seasons before Nehlen took over in 1980.  In 21 seasons, Nehlen posted a 149-93-4 record, taking West Virginia to 13 bowls.  Both his 1988 and 1993 teams posted 11-0 regular seasons, though both lost their bowl games to deny the school its first national championship.

 – Led by quarterback Major Harris, West Virginia posted an 11-0 regular season record in 1988.  In the Fiesta Bowl, however, the Mountaineers fell to Notre Dame, 34-21, to lose their #1 ranking.  (The scenario would be matched by Colorado the following season: 11-0 regular season; bowl loss to Notre Dame to lose the chance at #1).  The 1988 final ranking of #5 is the highest final ranking for WVU ever (the 2003 team finished 7th after its bowl loss, while last year’s team finished 6th in both of the major polls).

 – Okay, so the “Mountaineer” nickname is self-evident, as West Virginia is known as the “Mountain State” (insert your own joke here).  But prior to 1905, the West Virginia football players were referred to as the Snakes. 

 – Ask an old Mountaineer fan (like my father, an alum) who is WVU’s biggest rival, and you will likely hear “Penn State”.  However, since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, the annual grudge match has been discontinued.  However, that does not mean the Mountaineers do not have a natural rival.  Pittsburgh is just right up the road from Morgantown, and the “Backyard Brawl” ends the regular season for both teams.  Overall, Pittsburgh holds a decisive edge in the series, though West Virginia has won more than its fair share in recent years.  In 2007, Pittsburgh’s 13-9 upset of West Virginia in Morgantown denied the Mountaineers a shot at the BCS championship game.

 Famous alumni – football – Pat White, Steve Slaton, Sam Huff (all-American), Major Harris (qb), Jeff Hostetler (qb), Todd Sauerbrun (all-American punter – had a 90 yard punt against Nebraska in 1994), Chuck Howley (lb – Super Bowl V MVP), Marc Bulger (qb).

 Famous alumni – other – Jerry West (basketball), Don Knotts (actor), Rod Thorn (NBA executive)

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