Now that the college football semifinals are over and all of the major bowl games besides the BCS National Championship have been played, it’s understandable if you didn’t realize a game like the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl was even happening late on Saturday night.
Lost in the shuffle of TCU’s incredible comeback victory over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, West Virginia’s 43-42 win over Arizona State may have slipped through the cracks of some college football fans. But if you missed out, you missed out on one of the strangest bowl games in recent memory.
First and foremost, it featured this incredible West Virginia catch in the 1st quarter, in which Daikiel Shorts made the catch after the ball had already had been knocked out of the hands of the initial receiver (Sheldon Gibson) and right into the hands of Arizona State’s Jay Quitmeyer, only for Quitmeyer to drop the sure interception and allow Shorts to come in and make the grab.
It looks even crazier when you see it in slow motion.
But that insane grab wasn’t the only reason the Cactus Bowl was so strange. The game also featured the rare blocked return PAT for a 2-point score.
The Mountaineers and Sun Devils also combined for a ridiculous 1,196 total yards and 950 passing yards, a Cactus Bowl record. West Virginia’s Skyler Howard finished with 532 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, while Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici threw for 418 and four scores in a losing effort.
True to form, it also featured a completely boneheaded coaching mistake by Todd Graham that eventually cost his team the win. After scoring a touchdown with 5:09 on the clock to give Arizona State a 41-36 lead, Graham elected to go for the PAT instead of going for two, and West Virginia ended up scoring the game winning touchdown to win the game less than three minutes later.
Sounds about right.