experts believed the Rebels could lock on man-to-man against WVU's wide receivers and free up their safeties to help against the Mountaineers' power running game.
West Virginia wideouts Khori Ivy and Antonio Brown proved Mississippi wrong. Quite simply, Ivy was too experienced, and Brown too fast for the Rebel strategy to work.
Brown caught six Brad Lewis passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, while Ivy hauled in six passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 49-38 victory Thursday. It was WVU's first bowl victory since 1984 and broke an eight-game bowl losing streak.
Both were wide open on several occasions.
"It was bump-and-run -- us versus them," Brown said. "We knew we had a job to do, so we went out and did what we had to tonight."
Brown used his 4.18 40-yard dash speed to beat Taylor on several occasions. If the Rebels didn't believe Brown was that fast before, they certainly did afterwards.
"Antonio Brown is the fastest wide receiver I've ever faced, and I had the worst game of my season," Lucas said. "They kept catching us in bad defenses, and you have to give credit to their coaches for that.
"They kept scoring on the same plays, over and over."
Ivy, who ended his WVU career with a Big East Conference record 40-game streak of catching at least one pass, said before the game he didn't think the Rebels could handle he and Brown one-on-one.
"We were confident coming in," Ivy, who moved into second place in career receiving yardage at WVU, said. "We knew if we ran our routes precisely and if the line gave Brad time, they couldn't stop us."
Ivy was right.
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.