"Yeah, Tavon Austin is the real MVP. He won me the MVP,'' Smith said. "I can't say enough about that guy. He's one of the best players I've ever seen with and without the ball. He's so quick and guys have a hard time tackling him. He showed the nation what he can do.
"Like you said, it's kind of like I cheated. Tavon did a great job.''
Wednesday night's game changed, of course, on Darwin Cook's second-quarter, 99-yard fumble return when Clemson appeared to be going up 24-21 and instead fell further behind at 28-17. The Tigers managed a field goal on their next drive, but then gave up a stunning 35 straight points in what amounted to one quarter to fall behind 63-20.
And while WVU certainly seized the momentum with that play, at least a few Mountaineers also felt like Clemson made it easy for them, just as expected.
"Honestly, Clemson was a team that had shown us on film that when things get tough, they fold,'' Eain Smith said. "We knew if we could jump on them from the get-go, they would fold. And that's exactly what they did. When they're down, they don't have any fight left in them.
"I saw it when Cook took that fumble. You could just see it in their body language. I don't think they wanted to play anymore.''
Defensive end Bruce Irvin, who also caused a fumble that led to a touchdown later in the second quarter, didn't know about predicting what Clemson might do, but he did see it happen.
"I couldn't tell you about [how Clemson reacted to adversity during] the season. All I know is Clemson is explosive. They have a great offense,'' Irvin said. "But yeah, once we had them down by a couple of touchdowns, I think they threw the towel in.''
BRIEFLY: Eain Smith, by the way, was one of several Mountaineers who won in what amounted to a home game.
"I'm from Miami and I finished my career here in the Orange Bowl. I can't think of any better way to go out,'' Smith said. "And I graduated. You can write that down, too.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.