This is a tale of two bowl games.
For Ohio, it was the best of times.
For West Virginia, it was the worst of times.
Ohio entered Friday's Independence Bowl as more than a touchdown underdog to Louisiana-Monroe, a team that opened the season by winning at Arkansas, losing to Auburn in overtime, losing by five at Baylor and beating Tulane by 53.
The consensus opinion was that ULM simply had too much speed for Ohio. So much for that theory.
Ohio, which began the season with a win at Penn State, entered the game not only on a three-game losing streak, but also had lost all three of those games by at least two scores.
Speaking of two scores, it took Ohio exactly 6 minutes and 43 seconds to achieve a pair of TDs and a 14-0 lead. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton was five-for-five on those drives for 165 yards.
Although the favored Warhawks had plenty of time to overcome that deficit, it didn't happen. Ohio dominated from start to finish, laying a 45-14 whipping on a team playing in its home state.
Last year, Ohio celebrated its first bowl victory with a last-gasp win over Utah State.
It was a great story because it was historic for the school, but the win wasn't nearly as impressive as this one was. The Bobcats beat a good opponent and beat it soundly.
The ESPN announcers said they had spent a great deal of time with Ohio coach Frank Solich going over his gameplan and that everything he told them would happen did. Both the preparation and the executive were as near perfect as a football team can be.
One down, one to go for football teams of local interest.
West Virginia, like Louisiana-Monroe was expected to win its bowl game, the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse.
The Mountaineers not only were four-point favorites but visions of last year's 70-point performance in a dominating Orange Bowl victory over Clemson danced in the heads of Mountaineer fans.
WVU should have been - to steal a line from President Obama -fired up and ready to go.
After all, it was playing an old rival to who it had lost the previous two seasons. Revenge usually is a great motivator.
But West Virginia, as had become the case following a 5-0 start, laid an egg. WVU's incredible offense managed just 14 points, generating only a pair of Geno Smith to Stedman Bailey TDs. But West Virginia's defense got run over by Syracuse, which ran the ball 65 times for 369 yards for a 38-14 win.
Thus, WVU, whose fans were talking national title, running the table and Heisman Trophy in October, now are deeply and rightfully concerned about the future of the football program, which lost six of its last eight games and loses its three major offensive weapons.
Bowl wins -and losses - leave a long aftertaste.
Contact Dave Poe at email@example.com