The upcoming 2021 season for West Virginia football will mark 10 years since the program’s last major bowl victory in 2011 — a 70-33 walloping of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Gold and Blue Nation will replay that Mountaineer classic on July 31 on Nexstar stations across the Mountain State (and on WBOY on a date to be announced).
The Mountaineers entered 2011 with a stacked roster, which by the time it would run its course, became one of the most memorable offensive tridents in program history. Beyond the player personnel, however, WVU had to survive a somewhat tumultuous offseason.
The team was set to begin its fourth full season under coach Bill Stewart, who first brought a BCS bowl win to Morgantown as an interim coach in 2008. In the three years since, he led WVU to a trio of 9-4 seasons (including, amazingly, three straight Big East records of 5-2). Athletic director Oliver Luck, however, felt the program was up for a change, bringing on Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator and Stewart’s eventual successor.
The relationship between Stewart and Holgorsen never got off the ground in a friendly manner, and Stewart resigned before the 2011 summer even started — prompting the early promotion of Holgorsen to the helm.
On the field, it was almost as if that controversy never happened. Starting as the 19th-ranked team in the AP poll, the Mountaineers opened the season with a win over Marshall at home, kicking off a 5-1 start to the season. They dropped in the polls early with that loss, however, when they fell 47-21 to a second-ranked LSU team.
Behind Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and plenty of other all-time names, WVU went on to finish the season with a 9-3 regular season record (including another 5-2 record in the Big East), earning a conference co-championship along with Cincinnati Louisville. Ranked No. 23 at season’s end, WVU earned an automatic berth to the Orange Bowl, set for a date with the No. 14 Clemson Tigers.
Don’t miss GBN’s replay of one of the biggest wins in WVU football history on July 31 on the following stations:
- Wheeling (WTRF) – 1 p.m.
- Beckley (WVNS) – 5 p.m.
- Charleston (WOWK) – 7 p.m.