Sunday, January 03, 2016
Skyler Howard for governor
I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. watching Arizona State and West Virginia University in the Cactus Bowl, the final bowl of a terribly long bowl season, whose low ratings may kill a few bowls. But this bowl, which followed the Alamo Bowl, in which TCU came back 31 points down (and without their star quarterback) to beat Oregon in overtime, was easily the best of the bunch, which always seemed to be some SEC team beating some hapless team by 20 points.
The Cactus Bowl was a magnificent duel between two mid-powers in Power 5 conferences. The scoring included two points for Arizona State when Ismael Murphy-Richardson returned a blocked extra point attempt by WVU. The lead switched hands six or seven times. I kept thinking WVU would find a way to lose.
The game marked the end of the toughest schedule WVU ever had, highlighted by four consecutive games against ranked teams, three of them on the road. The team lost all four of them. And yet, somehow, when 3-4, the team got back up and won five of the next six, including the Cactus Bowl.
Skyler Howard was just great. He was 28 for 51 for 532 years, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He commanded the field. He had three passes that were over 50 years each (53, 59 and 64). The average completion was 19 yards. West Virginia has not had this much air power since Chuck Yeager retired.
Yes, it is a small inconsequential bowl game, but it shows that WVU is on track to competing in the Big 12. And for Skyler Howard, oft dismissed as inconsistent, the bowl was a showcase. He is the Rob Deer of college football. Deer led the league in strikeouts four times, compiling 1,409 strikeouts and a .220 batting average in his career. But he also hit 230 homers, and they were beauties.
The countdown has begun for the Missouri game on Saturday, September 3, in Morgantown. Howard will be a senior. We shall see if he can build on the Cactus Bowl win.