The Sooners will return to a familiar field. But against an unfamiliar foe. Oklahoma just missed out on reaching the BCS Championship game, and instead will have to settle for the Fiesta Bowl again against ninth-ranked West Virginia.
OU lost 43-42 to Boise State in last year's Fiesta Bowl, thanks to a sequence of trick plays by the Broncos. The Sooners automatically qualified for the Fiesta by defeating Missouri 38-17 Saturday night in the Big 12 Championship. "We're excited to be in the Fiesta Bowl against West Virginia,” coach Bob Stoops said. "It's exciting for us coming off the Big 12 Championship.” OU hasn't faced the Mountaineers since 1982, when West Virginia traveled to Norman and defeated the Sooners, 41-27. In that game, West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was a sophomore defensive back for the Mountaineers stepping on the field for the first time. "That was the first time I ever played,” Rodriguez said. This year, the Mountaineers appeared destined for the national championship game themselves, but stumbled Saturday in a 13-9 loss to rival Pittsburgh (5-7) at home. West Virginia struggled to move the ball after quarterback Pat White left the game with a dislocated thumb in his non-throwing hand in the second quarter. Still, as the Big East Conference champion, West Virginia automatically qualified for a BCS bowl. "I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed,” Rodriguez said. "But to be invited to the Fiesta Bowl against a great opponent is exciting.
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West Virginia running back Steve Slaton carries the ball past Louisville's Richard Raglin in a Nov. 8 game. Slaton gives the Mountaineers a potent ground attack. ASSOCIATED PRESS