Sep 12, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; The West Virginia mascot leads the team out on the field before the start of their game against the Liberty Flames at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
19. 2008 Meinke Car Care Bowl
In 2008, the North Carolina Tar Heels were in their second season under Coach Butch Davis. They had been missing from bowl games since 2004. Their return to Charlotte was well targeted because the Meinke Bowl got the Tar Heels against the football fanbase of the West Virginia Mountaineers. It was the biggest crowd in the state of North Carolina to see a college football game at that point.
The Tar Heels had weapons at wide receiver that season. Hakeem Nicks was in his last season before leaving for the pros. His teammate Brandon Tate offered speed on the other side and a return threat. Quarterback T.J. Yates had come back from injury in order to play later in the year.
For the West Virginia Mountaineers, the 2008 Meinke Bowl was another part of the Pat White showcase project. With running back Steve Slaton leaving the previous year, there was a conscious effort by Bill Stewart to show off White’s arm to improve his pro prospects.
The result was a scoring fest between White and Charlotte native Nicks. The two 8-4 teams proved to be pretty even. Yates hit Nicks for a big 73 yard pass touchdown to answer an early West Virginia score. White struck for the first time soon after. As a result, the Tar Heels pulled out a trick play with utility guy Cooter Arnold throwing a pass 66 yards to Nicks for the score. White and Nicks both scored again before the half to yield a 23-21 Tar Heel advantage.
The quick start slowed down in the third quarter as defensive adjustments were made. The Mountaineers took the lead on a field goal. The Tar Heels answered with a rare rushing touchdown by Yates to reclaim the advantage. White made the winning throw for the Mountaineers with seven minutes to go in the game.