Mountaineers stifle Bearcats, improves to 7-4, as Don Nehlen is immortalized at Milan Puskar Stadium
West Virginia sends Cincinnati home after strong offensive showing.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - West Virginia took down Cincinnati easily today, winning 42-21 over the Bearcats on a special day for WVU, as Don Nehlen’s name was enshrined permanently on the walls of Milan Puskar Stadium.
Though the Mountaineers only won by three scores, the gap felt larger than that, as Cincinnati could not stop West Virginia’s offense, led by 204 yards rushing from Jahiem White and 154 yards on the ground from Garrett Greene.
Three things made tonight feel big for West Virginia:
1 - Don Nehlen’s place unveiled alongside Mountaineer legends.
2 - West Virginia’s terrible showing on the road last week against Oklahoma.
3 - Jimbo Fisher’s recent firing at Texas A&M.
First, Don Nehlen’s presence gave Milan Puskar Stadium more life tonight - the Mountaineers came out ready to play, and the fans had an energy that felt different from other games this season.
That presence clearly made a difference, as West Virginia scored on 6 of their 9 drives.
Second; last week’s loss clearly affected WVU players and coaches, and it gave a lot of doubt to the 6 wins that WVU had achieved prior to that game. Tonight was a good return to form, as the Mountaineer defense forced 6 punts on 8 possessions for Cincinnati (prior to the 2 touchdowns in garbage time for the Bearcats).
This game was a solid response from the Mountaineers, and it felt like the team had a point to prove (like they have for much of the year).
Third; nobody knows what will happen next with Neal Brown. However, Jimbo Fisher’s firing, combined with that 39-point loss to the Sooners, barged open a door of doubt that WVU had mostly closed after the 6-3 start.
The pressure on the Mountaineer team grew exponentially over the past week, and the win over Cincinnati will not take away all of that pressure. However, this was an important win, and West Virginia proved that they can comfortably take care of teams beneath them.
What that means long-term will be up to Athletic Director Wren Baker. However, this win continues what is the best season under Neal Brown for West Virginia, and allows for hope that the Mountaineers can finish with 8 or even 9 wins after the bowl game.
West Virginia will play the regular season finale next week in Waco, Texas against Baylor on November 25th - kickoff time is yet to be announced by the Big 12.
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