MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Suffice it to say that motivation was not lacking for West Virginia's football team in Wednesday night's Orange Bowl.
In the four years that have passed since WVU's rout of heavily favored Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl that followed the 2007 season, a picture has remained in the entrance to the Puskar Center that includes the ESPN fan poll that counted 83 percent of the nation favoring the Sooners that night.
Soon it may be replaced by this year's version that showed 73 percent gave the nod in the Orange Bowl to Clemson.
"Definitely it was huge for me,'' wide receiver Tavon Austin said. "Me and Devon Brown were in the hotel and it's the first time I saw it. I kind of got mad and turned the TV off and went to sleep. But I came down with a great attitude.''
Playing the disrespect card, of course, is nothing new in college athletics. Somehow, even highly favored teams sometimes either pretend or are pushed into thinking they are somehow getting no respect. It is perhaps the most common motivational tool in all of sports.
With West Virginia, though, it probably rings a bit truer than with some other schools, especially in bowls. Consider that the Mountaineers come from what is universally regarded as the weakest of the BCS leagues - despite the ACC's 2-13 BCS bowl record now - and have been underdogs in all three BCS bowls in which they have played.
After Wednesday's 70-33 dismemberment of Clemson, WVU is now 3-0 in those bowls, and the last two haven't even been close.
"It just shows everybody that West Virginia isn't some sorry school,'' senior free safety Eain Smith said. "My freshman year, everybody counted us out against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. We blew them out. Everybody counted us out against Clemson. We blew them out. West Virginia's no school to be playing around with, and I think we made that statement.''
Quarterback Geno Smith smashed all sorts of records with his 401 yards passing and six touchdown tosses. He even ran for a seventh score for good measure.
But consider that four of those six touchdown passes might have traveled six feet between them. They were tiny little flips in the backfield in which Smith either underhanded or just lightly tossed the ball to a receiver motioning through the backfield.
Austin scored three of his four touchdowns on plays like that. Smith earned credit for his final TD pass of the night when he made the same flip to Willie Milhouse.
And Smith was quick to smile and understand when someone asked him if it felt like he cheated a bit in getting credit for six touchdown passes.