It’s game week now, though in the minds of the participants twisted by the demands of television, game week started Saturday, today is Wednesday and Thursday is Saturday. Regardless, WVU-Louisville lacks the luster it once had when ESPN picked it for its Thursday night showcase and hoped it would be a battle for Big East and maybe even national supremacy.
Neither team completely fulfiled its obligations, though the Mountaineers have been more accountable with their three-game winning streak that has them No. 6 in the polls and No. 7 in the BCS. Louisville, however, was a mess for a month or so and only now is starting to play well on offense, defense and special teams.
But try telling anyone inside Mountaineer Field Thursday night that it won’t mean a whole hell of a lot to beat Louisville. It was the Cardinals who dashed their dreams last season and scampered off in the night with the Big East’s pot of gold. A year earlier, it was WVU doing the same with the improbable triple-overtime victory.
That Louisville game on a bizarre Saturday in November is WVU’s most meaningful moment in this process that has them where they are today. Not because it propelled them to the Sugar Bowl, but because it gave them a label of legitimacy they have proudly worn ever since.
The Mountaineers were on a nice roll entering that game but had yet to really beat anyone. They then fell behind early and were playing catchup the entire game, even into the fourth quarter, where they trailed by 17 points. What happened next has its place in WVU lore and this was the game that delivered Patrick White, Steve Slaton, Dorrell Jalloh, Darius Reynaud and Eric Wicks into the key roles they still fulfill today.
The plays that composed the entire comeback are memorable. Yet the best part about the game is what transpired afterward. Witness the celebration and you can tell that, first, the players believed they had found something and it was going to lead them somewhere, but also that they wanted to do this after each and every game from that point forward.