This season marks the 30th anniversary of Mountaineer Field, and despite its adding the "Milan Puskar Stadium" prefix in 2004, it's always going to be "Mountaineer Field" to me. I was born in Morgantown just in time for the last season of the old stadium, but for some reason I can't recall it. So here are the top five games ever at the only stadium I've ever known.
5. WVU 17, Penn State 14 - Oct. 27, 1984
As a youth, this seemed like the biggest win in school history. To this day, a black and white photo of the scoreboard showing the word "Finally!" hangs in many Morgantown watering holes. Going into this matchup, the Mountaineers were on a 25-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions, so this one mattered. This was the Mountaineers' coming out party as a national program, coming a week after hammering Doug Flutie and the BC Eagles. The game was a tense affair and the ‘Eers held a three-point lead in its closing minutes, but the Nittany Lions were driving. The Mountaineers sealed their first victory against Joe Paterno with a Larry Holley interception, and the Mountaineer faithful couldn't wait until the final whistle and rushed the field with almost a minute remaining.
4. WVU 24, Virginia Tech 7 - Oct. 22, 2003
The Hokies came to Morgantown ranked No. 3 in the country and left with their feathers between their legs. The highest-ranked opponent ever to be beaten by the ‘Eers never came close, as WVU controlled the game from the opening whistle. Coach Rich Rodriguez was in his third season, and had earned his first marquee victory in Blacksburg the season before. The natives were restless for a big win at home. Though notable for being a decisive win against a tough archrival, this game is remembered just as much in Morgantown for the melee that ensued. The students rushed the field, clashed with cops, tore down goalposts and established their couch-burning reputation that very night.
3. WVU 46, Louisville 44 - Oct. 15, 2005
This one had more drama than the Royal Shakespeare Company. Seven months prior, the Louisville men's basketball team had staged an improbable comeback to beat WVU in the Elite Eight, so there was already no love lost in Morgantown. When Louisville came to town, they were the hot team, quarterbacked by Heisman hopeful Brian Brohm. The Cardinals were riding high, and the ‘Eers had been getting whipped all day. Down 24-7 in the fourth quarter, Pat White began to write what would be the beginning of his legacy as WVU's finest player ever. Scrambling for each extra inch, White kept drives alive and Steve Slaton scored a Big East-record six touchdowns as the ‘Eers rallied back, forced an overtime, and eventually played three of them before bottling up a two-point conversion in the third to clinch victory.
2. WVU 17, Miami 14, Nov. 20, 1993
The marquee victory in Don Nehlen's second undefeated season, it was the most-attended game in Mountaineer Field history, with over 70,000 in attendance. There was plenty of drama, but a 19-yard Robert Walker touchdown scamper put the ‘Eers ahead for good. A defensive unit that had carried the load for Nehlen's two-quarterback experiment all season held the lead.
1. WVU 51, Penn State 30, Oct. 29, 1988
This one tops the list not for drama, but because the 1988 undefeated season still stands as Mountaineer Football's crowning achievement. We wanted it, and we got it. This one was never really close, and Penn State was one in a line of 11 opponents who got absolutely steamrolled that year. Major Harris threw for two touchdowns, and his lone rushing touchdown is considered the greatest play in school history. Despite dropping the national title game to Lou Holtz's Notre Dame squad, nothing in my lifetime tops 1988, and nothing in 1988 tops this one. The Mountaineers would go on to face Penn State only four more times. They never won again.