The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 6, 2012

Is tonight's WVU vs. Texas matchup the Mountaineer's biggest game ever?

WEB EXCLUSIVE: "A View From the Sidelines"


What a difference a year makes

WVU has officially arrived in college football's "big time"

It seems as though every year West Virginia plays another "biggest game it's ever played."

The trend goes back to the days of Jim Carlen and Bobby Bowden — and perhaps even Art "Pappy" Lewis. But in recent history, it all started with the 2005 Sugar Bowl.

That was when WVU made a statement to the nation that it wasn't a second-tier program that could pull off an upset or two every few years but was no match for the Floridas or Notre Dames of the college football world — as past bowl results had indicated — but truly a national player. The win over SEC champion Georgia in the Bulldogs' back yard took WVU to a new level — one even Don Nehlen didn't reach with two undefeated regular seasons and a road victory at Oklahoma. The Mountaineers didn't just get to the "big game," they won it. Perhaps that's why the celebration on Peachtree Street was so special.

But that win was just the beginning. Program-defining victories came in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl and the 2012 Orange Bowl, and the debate over the school's biggest win became more and more complicated.

It's hard to make the case that a regular season game can mean more than BCS bowl victories, but some are calling tonight's matchup between No. 8 WVU and No. 11 Texas the biggest game in school history.

Shockingly, they're right.

This game is huge, and the result is almost secondary. The fact that WVU is going toe-to-toe with one of the nation's elite teams in a conference game marks a significant milestone in the history of WVU athletics,

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