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Will 'Eers ever run with big dogs?

by Chris Errington


(September 11) We shoulda known.

Another big game, another big-time failure for West Virginia.

WVU fans packed Mountaineer Field on Saturday night, hoping, praying and even expecting their beloved Mountaineers to top No. 1 Ohio State.

But why should they?

WVU simply doesn't deliver when the goods are on the line.

And unfortunately, the Mountaineers are getting that reputation well beyond these borders.

Even before the Ohio State loss, Associated Press college football writer Richard Rosenblatt predicted West Virginia would lose. He said he couldn't remember the last time the Mountaineers won a big game.

In its weekly rankings list, The Sporting News said this week of the Mountaineers: "Sigh: Another big game, another big loss."

For those who can't remember WVU's last win in a big game, here's a refresher:

In 1993, West Virginia beat then-No. 4 Miami 17-14.

But that looks less lustrous now, considering the Hurricanes ended up losing three games that season, including a 29-0 loss to a ho-hum Arizona team in the Fiesta Bowl.

I guess it's true.

If you can't play with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

Perhaps the plans for that new indoor practice facility should have included plans for a nice wraparound model, complete with patio furniture.

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A scrimmage? A meaningless non-conference game?

That's exactly what some of WVU's players called Saturday's game against No. 1 Ohio State. And that's exactly why West Virginia is not an annual national championship contender.

Saturday night was more than just a season opener. It could have a huge impact on the Mountaineers' future.

Head coach Don Nehlen has openly complained of WVU's inability to recruit with the big boys (Penn State and Ohio State, to name two). That's why the game was so important. What better way to woo some of the nation's top recruits than by defeating the No. 1 team in the country, on national television and in front of an overflow home crowd?

Instead, WVU players are content with a loss, a drop in the polls from No. 11 to No. 20, and no shot at a national championship.

And probably another year of losing the biggest battle of all -- recruiting -- to the big boys.

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How far has WVU cornerback Perlo Bastien fallen?

Two seasons ago, he was the young pup in a secondary filled with senior leadership on the nation's top defense.

This year, he has lost his starting job to Charles Fisher. And when he does play, he's a liability.

Although he played sparingly, Bastien was burned for a 42-yard pass from Joe Germaine to Dee Miller, before giving up a 14-yard touchdown strike that gave OSU a 17-3 lead three plays later.

Later in the third quarter, Bastien was beaten for a 29-yard pass from Germaine to David Boston on the drive that gave OSU a 27-10 lead and put the game out of reach.

With Rick Sherrod lost for the season, Bastien's playing time is sure to increase. It's enough to keep West Virginia secondary coach Jerry Holmes awake. And WVU opponents dreaming sweet dreams.