Oklahoma plays West Virginia in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- In the end, the Fiesta Bowl had
only two options. It could pick West Virginia or Hawaii
to play against Oklahoma, which drew an automatic berth
as Big 12 champion.
"The selection we had was very simple,'' president
and CEO John Junker said.
The Fiesta decided to pair the 11th-ranked Mountaineers
against the third-rated Sooners in a match-up of teams
that had their national title hopes dashed in the last
The Mountaineers (11-2) were still stinging from
a 13-9 loss to arch rival Pittsburgh on Saturday night
- a defeat that knocked them out of the Bowl Championship
Series title game.
"I'd be lying to say we weren't disappointed,''
Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez said on a media conference
call. "It's only been 24 hours since we lost our last
game. But at the same time, to be invited to the Fiesta
Bowl against a great opponent and a tremendous coaching
staff is a great honor.''
The Fiesta has played host to two representatives
of non-BCS conferences - Utah and Boise State - but
decided it would rather have Big East champion West
Virginia instead of Hawaii, pride and champ of the
Western Athletic Conference.
Oklahoma and West Virginia will meet for the fourth
time, and the first in the postseason. Oklahoma leads
the series 2-1.
It will be West Virginia's first appearance in the
Fiesta since January 1989, when the Mountaineers and
Major Harris lost to Notre Dame in a national title
The Mountaineers face a monthlong layoff between
the regular season finale and the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl
in Glendale, Ariz. Rodriguez said he expects his players
to bounce back emotionally and be fired up to face
"Kids are more resilient than coaches,'' he said. "They'll
have to get it turned around quickly, and I think they
will. Even though everybody was down last night, I'm
sure everybody will be excited about going to the Fiesta
"It's nice to have momentum going into he bowl game,
but you don't play for another whole month,'' Rodriguez
said. "We played awful last night, so maybe we'll play
better in the bowl game.''
The Sooners (11-2) played superbly in their last
game, routing then-No. 1 Missouri 38-17 in the Big
12 title game in San Antonio. That resounding victory
wasn't enough to lift the Sooners into the BCS title
game after they lost to Texas Tech two weeks ago.
Speaking to the media on a conference call, Stoops
declined to second-guess the BCS for putting twice-beaten
LSU into the title game against Ohio State instead
of his Sooners.
"It's a little bit too late for that,'' Stoops said. "It
doesn't much matter right now. Things are what they
Oklahoma will make its sixth BCS appearance since
The Sooners will play in the Fiesta Bowl for the
second consecutive year and the fourth time overall.
OU is 1-2 in the Fiesta.
"In the end, we're excited to be in the Fiesta Bowl,''
said Stoops, who won his fifth Big 12 title since taking
over in Norman. "It's a fabulous bowl, first class
in everything that they do.''
Last January, the Sooners lost to Boise State 43-42
in overtime in a game many consider to be among the
greatest in college football history.
"When people say, 'Are you excited about Oklahoma
coming back,' we're thrilled about Oklahoma coming
back,'' Junker said. "They're one of the dominant programs
in college football.''
West Virginia drew its second BCS bid in the last
Rodriguez said he expects quarterback Pat White,
who dislocated the thumb on right (non-throwing hand)
against Pitt, to be ready for the Fiesta Bowl.
"It's still a little sore today, but there's no
ligament damage, so he should be fine in a few days,''
Fox Sports breaks
the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between Oklahoma
and West Virginia, ESPN:
"This is a good matchup for Oklahoma
"The Sooners (11-2) played
in their last game", Matt Hayes of
the Sporting News
: "It's not even close.
Easily the best
of the five bowls" and Rivals: "Sooners' sixth
appearance in eight seasons." MSNBC on the Fiesta
Bowl's reaction to getting the Sooners: "we’re
about Oklahoma coming back" and USA
shows how all the coaches
in their final regular-season poll."
John Hoover of the Tulsa World
the Sooners headed back
, Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman
, John Shinn of the Norman Transcript
, the Oklahoman
Clay Horning of the Transcript
on the national
and the Oklahoman
on OU's unsung
News from West Virginia: The Charleston
, the Charleston Daily Mail
WVU's bad timing for a poor
and the team's
to upset against Pitt, the Beckley
on WVU meeting
and how Pitt pulled
, the Times West Virginian
on the Mountaineers
in the Fiesta
, the Martinsburg Journal on the upset
the Parkersburg News & Sentinel
on the loss