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Relive Pat White’s Final Game in 2008 WVU Bowl Win Over North Carolina



Pat White and Pat McAfee Car Care Trophy
Image credit to WVU Athletics

With WVU and North Carolina set to meet in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl to cap off the 2023 season, it’s time to reflect back on the last time these two long tenured programs met on a football field.

Just like on Dec. 27, that game was in the home state of the Tar Heels in Charlotte, North Carolina. But one major difference from the present day, that game in 2008 marked the end of an era and the last bowl win for a WVU quarterback, not the first like Garrett Greene seeks this year.

And in the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl, Pat White had one more legendary moment while wearing a West Virginia uniform left in him. White’s last game as a Mountaineer was actually a performance of epic proportions for one of the greatest quarterbacks, not just in the history of West Virginia football, but in college football.

White, who still holds the distinction as being among the most entertaining and best dual-threat college quarterbacks ever, showed off his arm more than his legs in an ironic twist of his last game with WVU. He threw for a personal best 332 yards with three passing touchdowns in the 31-30 comeback win. Of course, White did run some too. He added 55 yards on the ground, granted his 2.6 yards per rush in the game were well below his 6.5 average for his college career.

With Steve Slaton in the NFL with the Houston Texas at the time, Noel Devine was the lead back for the 2008 Mountaineers. He ran for 61 yards and scored a touchdown in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Arlic Arnett was WVU’s leading receiver with seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns on the day. But the game and moment belonged to White.

Called a “fitting tribute” to White’s legacy by then head coach Bill Stewart after the game, White won his third straight bowl game MVP. He finished his college career a perfect 4-0 in bowl games, becoming the first quarterback to start and win four bowl games.

“He’s the greatest to ever wear the old gold and blue. It’s a fitting tribute that this man’s the MVP,” said the late Stewart about White following the win.

Pat White and Bill Stewart

But while White’s career ended on a positive note, the season was still marred in disappointment for Mountaineer Nation. A year that started off with hope of at minimum another BCS bowl appearance, opened with WVU going 1-2 out of the gate and then 2-2 down the stretch as fans watched their team’s chances of lifting another major bowl trophy come crashing down.

The fanfare may have been all about White, but there was another player on the field who offered plenty of highlights and put up some jaw-dropping statistics of his own.

North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks caught eight balls for 217 yards and found the end zone three times. It was UNC quarterback T.J. Yates and Nicks who connected for the biggest plat of the game, a 73-yard touchdown. However, Nicks heroics weren’t enough and the Tar Heels would fall to 8-5.

As of 2023, the West Virginia Mountaineers and North Carolina Tar Heels are two programs who have combined for 78 total bowl appearances. That’s now 40 for WVU and 38 for UNC. And the upcoming Duke’s Mayo Bowl will be the third ever matchup between the schools, all in bowl games.

Similar to the situation for Stewart’s 2008 team, Neal Brown’s Mountaineers are looking for their ninth win in the bowl game. Unlike Stewart’s 2008 team, a nine-win season for Brown will serve as an exclamation point on a season about proving doubters wrong. When WVU won number nine in 2008, it felt like a close to a season of a missed opportunity. Brown hopes 2023 can end with win number nine signifying a reason for fans to trust that the best is still yet to come.

But no matter what happens in Charlotte this year, no WVU fan will ever forger what happened in 2008.

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