IT WAS EARLY Thursday morning, around 1:30 a.m., deep in the bowels of Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
WVU football favorite Bruce Irvin had not grasped what his team had just accomplished. It had defeated Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson by a whopping 70-33 score. The Mountaineers had put on a performance for the ages. Seventy points had never been put onto a scoreboard in a bowl game in college football history.
"Not by Ohio State?" asked Irvin incredulously.
He was told no.
"Damn," he said. "Damn. Damn! I'm speechless. I can't believe we put up 70 points myself."
"I'm so glad I got to be a part of it. We brought it home for the great state of West Virginia. Those people are always behind us, no matter the situation, no matter the team we're playing. We got it done for them."
When the Discover Orange Bowl was completed, however, one couldn't help but be happy for the players in the WVU locker room.
There was Irvin, the flashy defensive end. His smile lit up the room.
"It's the best feeling in the world, especially since people doubted us," Irvin said, chip still firmly planted on his shoulder. "We got it done. We kept playing and fighting and the defense stepped up big."
Off to his side was his less flashy - but nonetheless effective - running mate at end, Julian Miller, who had been the NCAA's active career sack leader. He entered WVU as a promising, yet skinny, freshman. Now his college career is over. He went out in a blaze of glory.
"This means so much," Miller said. "Being here for five years and playing West Virginia football has been amazing. I never would have imagined the type of career I've had.
"I knew I wanted to play ball here. I knew I wanted to be great. But I didn't know I'd be this good and be able to help lead this team - which really didn't have an identity coming into the season - to an Orange Bowl championship.
"This is what you prepare for in the summers, springs, winters. It's this moment right here. The thing that Coach [Bill Kirelawich] had me and Josh Taylor tell the younger guys on the defensive line is we'd never been in a BCS game. There's a certain feeling in the atmosphere after you've won a BCS game. It's something that will give motivation down the road to have this feeling again.
"Just being at one [BCS game] as a redshirt freshman - and not playing - was great. To have this as a feeling this year? Knowing I helped out? It just feels amazing."