Big East Conference champion West Virginia’s renowned speed and potent spread/big-play offense stunned Big 12 Conference titlist Oklahoma with six touchdowns, including three scores of 57 yards or longer and none shorter than 17 yards, in its 48-28 victory. The 2008 Fiesta Bowl was played in front of 70,016 fans at University of Phoenix Stadium, the 23rd sellout in the past 24 Fiesta Bowls.
The Mountaineers’ 525 total yards (349 rushing), the most allowed by the Sooners during the season, set a WVU bowl record.
Mountaineer quarterback Pat White triggered their offensive barrage with 176 yards through the air and 150 yards on the ground. Freshman running back Noel Devine complemented White with 110 rushing yards on 13 carries in relief of injured standout Steve Slaton, who carried only once after suffering a pulled hamstring early in the contest. Darius Reynaud scored two touchdowns — one receiving, the other rushing.
The teams exchanged three early field goals that gave WVU a 6-3 second-quarter lead. The Mountaineers’ quick-strike touchdown onslaught began shortly thereafter when fullback Owen Schmitt rambled down the sideline on a 57-yard touchdown jaunt, the longest run in WVU bowl history. Following another Oklahoma field goal, Reynaud gathered a pass from White for a 21-yard touchdown to give West Virginia a 20-6 halftime advantage.
Oklahoma closed the gap at the outset of the third quarter with 10 unanswered points that cut WVU’s lead to 20-15. The Sooners scored on Garrett Hartley’s third field goal and a 1-yard touchdown run by Chris Brown that capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
However, West Virginia regained the game’s momentum with two touchdowns to end the third quarter, the first a 17-yard run by Devine, the second a 30-yard rush by Reynaud on a reverse.
Despite two fourth-quarter Oklahoma touchdowns — Sam Bradford passes to Quentin Chaney (19 yards) and Juaquin Iglesias (15 yards) — WVU sealed the deal with two six-pointers of its own, a 79-yard pass from White to Tito Gonzales, and a 65-yard back-breaking dash by Devine. The former was the longest touchdown pass in WVU history and tied for the second longest in Fiesta Bowl annals.
One of six interim head coaches to lead teams into bowl games following the 2007 season, WVU’s Bill Stewart was the only one to claim victory. “Interim” was removed from his title the next morning.