Thursday, December 8, 2016

Top 5 Thanksgiving week performances in WVU football history

With Turkey Day being today and a matchup with Iowa State looming Saturday, we are taking a look back at the top 5 individual performances for WVU during the week of Thanksgiving.

With the NFL dominating Thanksgiving Thursday, many of WVU’s games have came on the Friday after Thanksgiving and some falling on Saturday. WVU has played on most Thanksgiving weeks, but did not start consistently playing this late in the season until the early 1990’s. With all of that being said, let’s examine the Top 5 performances from this holiday week through the years.

5. Marc Bulger 1999

(52-21 win vs Pitt in the Backyard Brawl) 

Bulger seemed to pick his play up in late November. During Thanksgiving week in 1999, Bulger torched the hated Pitt secondary for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns. Despite these impressive numbers, it was not even his best Thanksgiving week performance. (We will get to that in a bit.)

In this matchup, Bulger completed 20 of 30 passes and threw touchdowns to three different receivers. The 31-point margin of victory ranks as one of the most lopsided victories in this rivalry’s rich history.

Bulger went on to start 95 games in the NFL and was a two-time Pro Bowler. He threw for 22,814 yards and 122 touchdowns over the span of eight seasons.

4. Steve Slaton 2005

(45-13 win over Pitt in Backyard Brawl on Thanksgiving Day) 

In 2005, the Backyard Brawl was played on Thanksgiving Day and the 12th ranked Mountaineers did not disappoint.

Slaton was a workhorse, running the ball 34 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to the rushing effort, Slaton was also important in the passing game as he caught a 16 yard touchdown from Pat White.

Slaton went on to rush for over 1,800 yards in three NFL seasons including a magical rookie season in which he ran for over 1,200 yards. Slaton rushed for 13 touchdowns, and totaled 808 receiving yards out of the backfield.

3. Avon Cobourne 1999

(52-21 win over Pitt) 

In the same game that Bulger threw for 331 yards and 4 TD’s, he did not even have the best game on his own offense.

Not to be outdone, Cobourne ran for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns as WVU clobbered Pitt. One of the best 1-2 punches in Mountaineer history, both players brought their “A” games when it was time to play in late November.

This game will go down as one of the best offensive performances in WVU’s history. It is very rare to see a team produce a 300 yard passer and a 200 yard rusher in a single game.

Cobourne enjoyed a fantastic career in the CFL, running for over 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was a receiving threat too, totaling 2,173 receiving yards during his six-year career. In 2009, Cobourne was named Grey Cup MVP.

2. Pat White 2005 & 2007

2005: 45-13 win over Pitt

2007: 66-21 win over #20 UCONN 

These two performances were both fantastic, and it is difficult to differentiate one from the other.

In the same 2005 Backyard Brawl that Slaton totaled 179 yards and 3 TD’s, White ran for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns, while throwing for an additional touchdown.

The Pitt defense had no answer for the Mountaineers on Thanksgiving that year.

Two years later, White led the 4th ranked Mountaineers to huge win over UCONN. Traveling to UCONN’s home field, the Mountaineers were on upset alert against the 20th ranked Huskies.

Pat White had other ideas though, as he ran for 186 yards and 2 TD’s on 16 carries. White threw for an additional 107 yards, plus a touchdown as the Mountaineers crushed the Huskies.

White appeared in six games for the Miami Dolphins during his rookie season. Not only is he one of the best QBs in WVU history, White went down as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the history of college football.

1. Marc Bulger 1998

(52-14 victory over Pitt) 

Bulger must have really enjoyed turkey. His second appearance on this list, Bulger threw for 409 yards and six touchdowns against Pitt in 1998.

One season before his 334 yard and 4 TD performance, Bulger torched the Panthers in tune to a crushing 52-14 victory. Bulger threw touchdowns to five separate receivers, and two wide outs surpassed the century mark for the Mountaineers.

409 stood as the 3rd most passing yards in school history at the time, but it has since fallen to 11th since Dana Holgorsen brought the Air Raid Offense to Morgantown.

The six touchdowns are still second in school history, and this performance is one of the best all-around performances by any WVU quarterback.

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