W.Va. tops BC to give Nehlen perfect pitch

CHESTNUT HILL, MASS — CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Like an impassioned politician, Don Nehlen was stumping for votes. Stumping hard.

Flailing his hands wildly, his voice rising, the West Virginia coach said if his Mountaineers didn't go to the Orange Bowl to play Nebraska for the national title, then . . .


"Then it would be a crime. Then this system is really wrong. Then it's political. We've done everything we've had to do to get into position to play for the championship."

West Virginia needed several miracles yesterday to defeat Boston College at packed Alumni Stadium, to finish the season with an 11-0 record and win the Big East.


And somehow the Mountaineers got them in an amazing 17-14 victory over quarterback Glenn Foley and the Eagles, who a week earlier had jumbled the national championship picture with a stunning upset of then-No. 1 Notre Dame.

For West Virginia to get a crack at Nebraska, which yesterday defeated Oklahoma and is expected to remain No. 1 in the coalition rankings, the fourth-ranked Mountaineers must move ahead of No. 2 Florida State. The Seminoles have a loss, yet were ranked ahead of the Mountaineers last week.

And that's what had Nehlen so steamed.

"We just beat the team [Boston College] that beat the team [Notre Dame] that beat Florida State," Nehlen said. "I mean, everybody talks about what a great team Bobby Bowden has. But he didn't get it done when he had to. Only two teams in America did that -- us and Nebraska.

"Yeah, we beat Boston College, and we were bad today."

True, the Mountaineers weren't very good. But when you're on a roll, you've got luck on your side.

For most of the game, Foley moved the Eagles down the field at will, taking a 14-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The way the BC defense was handling the Mountaineers that lead looked huge.


But the Eagles kept self-destructing, as they had in the first half, when Foley was intercepted twice in the Mountaineers' end zone and running back Darnell Campbell lost a fumble at the West Virginia 3.

The fourth of five BC turnovers was the killer.

With 2:23 remaining and the Eagles (8-3) trying to run out the clock with a 14-9 lead, Mountaineers cornerback Mike Logan recovered a fumble by David Green at the West Virginia 37.

Five plays later, quarterback Darren Studstill hit Ed Hill for the 24-yard TD that gave the Mountaineers a 17-14 lead with 1:08 to go.

BC marched down field, but Foley's final pass was picked off by Logan deep in West Virginia territory.

Today, the Mountaineers will root for Florida to upset Florida State. But if Florida State wins, the Mountaineers just will have to hope that Nehlen swayed enough voters to give them a shot at playing for No. 1.


"All I know," Ed Hill said, "is it will be highway robbery if we don't get the chance."