Big win has West Virginia thinking about turnaround

Updated: October 23, 2003, 1:14 PM ET

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Brian King and Lance Frazier had all day to lounge around before West Virginia's night game with No. 3 Virginia Tech. So the Mountaineer teammates dreamed up this scenario: They'd beat their ranked opponent by 21 points.

"We just said, 'Why not? Why can't we get a major, 21-point convincing win over a top team?" King recalled. "There must have been something in the air, because 21 points it was."

West Virginia's 28-7 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night has the Mountaineers confident they can turn around a season that until now was filled with mistakes and the short side of close finishes.

"It's nice to be on the good end," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Our guys like challenges. You say we could have or should have, but we are very close to being undefeated in the Big East this year."

A win by Virginia Tech (6-1, 2-1 Big East) over first-place Miami (7-0, 3-0) on Nov. 1 would further tighten the conference race.

West Virginia (3-4, 2-1) still needs three wins in its final five games to become bowl eligible.

That might be within reach if the Mountaineers play the rest of their games the way they dominated Virginia Tech, the highest-ranked team West Virginia has ever beaten.

West Virginia minimized Tech's biggest weapons, turned two first-half turnovers into scores and roughed up the Big East's top defense for 426 yards.

Virginia Tech never crossed midfield in the second half en route to its worst defeat since a 38-7 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 3, 2001.

"There were blue shirts everywhere. We just swarmed," said King, who had two interceptions in the game. "The whole key in shutting down wide receivers is getting pressure. The game plan allowed us to worry about ourselves and not Tech."

After the game, rowdy football fans set fires in the streets. No one was seriously injured but there were several arrests.

This week, Rodriguez left messages on students' answering machines, taped a video shown on the football field scoreboard and made other requests for fans to act responsibly at the nationally televised game.

Earlier this month, the university disciplined three students who participated in similar post-game mayhem after the Mountaineers' loss to Miami.

Next up for West Virginia is a Nov. 1 meeting at home with Mid-American Conference member Central Florida (2-5).

The Mountaineers' final four games are at Boston College, home against Pittsburgh, at Syracuse and home against Temple, which prompted King to conjure up more scenarios.

"We run the table, we win the Big East -- if we get help from Tech next week against Miami," he said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index