Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/5/12
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. After rumbling 99 yards for a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the second quarter, West Virginia safety Darwin Cook banged into Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot, sending them both tumbling to the ground. That was more resistance than any Clemson tacklers offered Wednesday night. In a scintillating display of offense while at the same time humiliating showing on defense, the No. 23 Mountaineers crushed the No. 15 Tigers 70-33 in the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. There's not enough room here to list all the records West Virginia set. The most amazing was breaking the mark for most points scored in a bowl game. Any bowl game. In college football history. "I'd be lying if I thought we could come out and score 70," said West Virginia junior quarterback Geno Smith after earning the games Most Outstanding Player and saying he won't skip his senior season for the NFL. "But with our offense you never know what can happen." Smith, from nearby Miramar, Fla., completed 31 of 42 passes for 401 yards and six touchdowns. Both the yards and TDs established new Orange Bowl records. The prior owners? Tom Brady (369 yards in 2000) and Matt Leinart (five touchdowns in 2005). But the game turned on Cook's fumble return. With less than 11 minutes left in the first half and trailing 21-17, the Tigers (10-4) had the ball, first and goal at the West Virginia 3-yard line. Running back Andre Ellington took the handoff and bulled into the line, appearing headed for the end zone. With some Clemson players already celebrating what they thought was a touchdown, Cook picked the ball out of the scrum and went the other way. After reviewing the play, referees confirmed the ball did come loose before Ellington was either down or across the goal line, and the Mountaineers were up 28-17. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the Mountaineers momentum "snowballed" from there. "I had the ball in my hand and I didn't hear a whistle and I ran," Cook said. "It was the great moment of my life so far." After hitting pay dirt, Cook banged into Obie and into the wall of the stands behind the end zone. Mountaineer running back Shawne Alston said he "was dying laughing" when it happened."I heard it was a girl (inside the costume of an orange), so I had to hit her," Cook said with a laugh after the game. Meanwhile, the Tigers couldn't hit anybody. "That was about as bad of a defensive performance as I've seen in a long time," Swinney said. Yes, it was ugly. The Tigers gave up 589 yards. They watched as West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin caught four touchdowns passes and churned up 280 all-purpose yards. "I should give him my trophy," Smith said of all the running that Austin, who had 11 receptions for 117 yards, did after the catch. The Mountaineers (10-3) also got 77 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns from Alston. And they were recipients of three second-quarter turnovers by Clemson, which Swinney called a "virus" that helped West Virginia outscore the Tigers 35-3 in the quarter to take a 49-20 halftime lead. And yes, that's another record. No college team ever had scored that many points in a half in a bowl game. The record for most points scored by a team bowl history was set just last week when Robert Griffin III and Baylor routed Washington 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl. And you thought the Huskies' defense was bad. "We just tried to keep going and keep the pedal down and keep moving forward," Smith said he threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Willie Milhouse to make it 70-26 with 6:21 left in the game. "We always play like it's 0-0. That way, there's no letdown." The Mountaineers were fired up from the start against Clemson. Running back Andrew Buie said players saw a poll on television that showed 83 percent of respondents believed the Tigers would win. "Everybody was saying, 'West Virginia is going to lose. West Virginia is going to lose,'" Buie said. "But we believed in each other and we came out with a W." When the onslaught was over, Wet Virginia players donned T-shirts that read, "Orange you glad we won." Smith then took oranges that were stacked inside a trophy and threw them to teammates. Yes, they caught them with ease. Like the rest of the evening, there was not much resistance to them making the grab.
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