The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 21, 2011

Can Mountaineers spring a repeat of 2008 Fiesta Bowl?

MORGANTOWN — To Najee Goode, it is “beautiful luck” that West Virginia is playing Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl Jan. 4 in Miami, Fla.

“I jumped into the air when they announced on TV that we were going to play on the beach,” said the 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker from Cleveland, Ohio.

“I enjoyed playing in a BCS bowl (Fiesta) when I first came in. Now it’s definitely a chance to do it again at the beach.”

West Virginia upset heavily favored Oklahoma Jan. 2, 2008, in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

Goode earned a spot on the All-Big East first team this year. He was credited with 84 tackles, 12.5 tackles for lost yardage, and four sacks from his middle linebacker position.

“Clemson was explosive in beating Virginia Tech in the playoff for the ACC Championship,” Goode said.

“The Tigers are 10-3 and are ranked 16th nationally.”

The Mountaineers, 9-3 and ranked 23rd, finished in a three-way tie for the Big East crown with Cincinnati and Louisville. But WVU won the BCS bid on the league’s tie-breaking rules.

“It was a tough situation for us after we lost to Louisville,” Goode recalled. “But things worked out for us as we won our last three games and Cincinnati beat Connecticut in its last game.”

Goode said, “We’ve got to make some plays to beat Clemson. We had that opportunity and beat Oklahoma when I was a freshman.

“We’re having time (after final exams) to become familiar with our opponent. Clemson has a good quarterback who is really good.

“He makes a lot of good decisions. From watching tapes, you could see that the Tigers are explosive.”

Goode thinks the WVU defense has gotten better as the younger players gradually improved with experience as the season progressed.

Goode singled out fellow defensive standouts Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin for praise as big contributors.

He added, “And we got some breaks when needed — an interception, fumble recovery, etc,” he noted. “And I think the defense continues to get better.”

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