The College Football Playoff replaces the Bowl Championship Series this year to delight of college football fans across the country, answering the cries to determine a national champion on the field.
With the close of that era, ESPN’s Jake Trotter selected the best win of the current Big 12 Conference members since the 1998 season, the year the BCS debuted, until its final moment following Florida State’s national championship victory over Auburn this past January.
Trotter selected West Virginia’s 28-7 upset of then-No. 3 Virginia Tech Hokies in Morgantown, which became the first victory against a team ranked in the top three in program history. West Virginia would use touchdown runs from Quincy Wilson, Kay-Jay Harris and Rasheed Marshall, as well as a 93-yard touchdown strike from Marshall to Travis Garvin to spoil the national championship hopes for Virginia Tech.
We bring you, now, the games that should join that Virginia Tech upset as the best West Virginia games of the BCS era:
2002: At No. 13 Virginia Tech
Of his 10 career interceptions, it’d be tough to find a bigger turnover caused by defensive back Brian King, who picked off Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall in Lane Stadium’s end zone giving West Virginia a 21-18 win.
The win also snapped West Virginia’s four-game losing streak to the Hokies, and the team’s 12-game losing streak against ranked opponents dating back to November 1998.
2005: Vs. No. 19 Louisville
Freshman Steve Slaton’s performance against Louisville, the first meeting between the schools as Big East Conference rivals, made him a star on the national level and a household name to West Virginia fans. Slaton’s six total touchdowns broke Harry Clarke’s 1937 record of five touchdowns scored against Western Maryland, while the 36 points from those touchdowns fell just one-point shy of Ira Errett Rodgers’ single-game record for points scored by a player.
The three overtime periods needed to beat Louisville was the second game in program history to feature as many overtimes, the first coming in 41-38 loss to Pitt in 1997.
2009: Vs. No. 8 Pitt
Freshman Tyler Bitancurt made himself a household name with just one kick, connecting on a 43-yard field goal that gave West Virginia a 19-16 upset win over then-No 8 Pitt in the Backyard Brawl’s 102nd edition.
The last second West Virginia victory would be the biggest of any Mountaineer football team over a ranked Pittsburgh team since November 2003.
2012: Vs. No. 13 Clemson
The 37-point rout of the Clemson Tigers in the 2012 Orange Bowl made West Virginia the only team of the BCS era to go undefeated along with past wins over the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2005 Nokia Sugar Bowl and Oklahoma Sooners in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
West Virginia’s 70 points scored against Clemson broke many Orange Bowl and team records, and was the most points by the Mountaineers since a 80-7 win against Rutgers in November 2001.
2012: Vs. No. 25 Baylor
No mark in the West Virginia record book was safe in the Mountaineers’ epic 70-63 shootout with the Baylor Bears for the program’s first ever Big 12 game.
Geno Smith broke his previous record of six passing touchdowns from the abovementioned 2012 Orange Bowl, throwing for eight passing touchdowns without an interception. Smith would top another past performance with 656 passing yards against Clemson, which is nearly 200 yards more than in West Virginia’s loss to LSU in 2011.
Tavon Austin’s 14 receptions would break Jock Sanders’ 2009 record of 12 against Auburn, while Stedman Bailey’s 303 receiving yards and five touchdowns put him at the top of those respective categories.