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The Orange Bowl Will Define Dana Holgorsen's First Season At West Virginia

(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Getty Images

WVU finished a third straight season with a record of 9-3. Even though this was enough for us to "win" the Big East Championship and secure our third BCS bowl in seven years, it was a disappointment nonetheless in the eyes of many fans. The disappointment lies in the fact that we had so many chances, but as in years past, we let them slip away.

It was disappointing because it was supposed to be different this year with Bill Stewart out and Dana Holgorsen at the helm of our Mountaineers. The struggles on special teams, the untimely turnovers and never putting together a full game on offense were supposed to be things of the past. It was Stewart's X's and O's, not the Jimmys and Joes last year.

Yet game after game this year, the same frustrations reared their ugly head and kept WVU from blowing the doors off our sub-par Big East opponents.

However, Dana Holgorsen and our Mountaineers can make us forget about our regular season struggles with a convincing victory over Klempsen in our upcoming exhibition game called the Orange Bowl.

Offense: Total Yards 441.5 -- 29th; Passing Yards 284.8 -- 21st; Rushing Yards 156.8 -- 61st; Points Scored 33.6 -- 26th
Defense: Total Yards 379.4 -- 58th; Passing Yards 202.9 -- 38th; Rushing Yards 176.5 -- 81st; Points Allowed 26.2 -- 62nd

Offense: Total Yards 459.6 -- 18th; Passing Yards 341.8 -- 7th; Rushing Yards 117.8 -- 100th; Points Scored 34.9 -- 20th;
Defensel Total Yards 340.3 -- 27th; Passing Yards 199.6 -- 32nd; Rushing Yards 140.8 -- 51st; Points Allowed 26.2 -- 63;

Despite the above stats, the experts in Vegas set have put Clemson as 3.5 point favorites early and the line has remained static because most of the action hasn't started yet and barring the loss of a major player, it isn't likely to jump significantly in any direction.

I'm not exactly sure why Klempsen is favored at all seeing as how the stats slightly line-up in WVU's favor. WVU is better in every offensive category, excluding rushing yards a game. We are also better than or equal to Clemson in every defensive category.

I guess one could say that Clemson is more battle tested playing in the ACC?

Alright, now that you have climbed back into your chair from LOLing all over the place, we can move onto the coaches.

If you put me on the sidelines, it would be a lot like Dabo Swinney. My enthusiasm and love for my school would show through at all times. However, my lack of knowledge about what is actually happening on the field would be readily apparent at times too. Dabo seems like a great guy, but when he is matched up against Holgorsen, it is no contest.

Holgorsen has a track record of high powered offenses. Dabo has a history of great quotes:

"They ain't Alabama. They ain't LSU. And they're certainly not Clemson. That's why Carolina's in Chapel Hill and USC's in California and the university in this state always has been, always will be Clemson."

Around the middle of the season I was saying that I would take Tajh over Geno, I was wrong. The job Holgorsen has done coaching up Geno and allowing him to lead the offense on the field is still a work in progress. Despite late season struggles in gaining big yards, Geno has been more accurate with his passes.

Holgorsen is trying to erase everything Geno was taught under Jeff Mullen. This is a daunting task seeing as how Mullen's philosophy on offense was to get the ball on the correct hash to set-up the punt.

No matter the outcome of this game, I think the sky is the limit for Dana Holgorsen at WVU. While we will be losing some key parts on defense, we have tons of talent returning on offense next year, assuming nobody bolts for the NFL. Also, don't forget, as Country Roads so eloquently documented last week, the incoming recruiting is extremely talented on paper. If we can find some depth on both lines, this class will set the foundation for Holgorsen's bright future at WVU

With a win, the expectations for Dana Holgorsen's Mountaineers go through the roof. Not only will WVU fans being saying 10 wins or bust, the national media will likely be calling us a dark horse national title contender in our first year in the Big 12.

Don’t forget to show support for your favorite coach by voting him as the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year at