Coming off of its first ever 11-win season and with junior Major Harris returning to lead a potent offense, West Virginia entered the 1989 season ranked 17th in the AP Poll and with high expectations. The Mountaineers started the season accordingly, racing to a 4-0 record and to #9 in the AP Poll. In Week 5 against #10 Pitt, however, West Virginia fell victim to another memorable collapse in the Backyard Brawl. Trailing 31-9 in the 4th quarter, Pitt scored 22 unanswered points and kicked a game-tying field goal as time expired to force a 31-31 tie. The Mountaineers would suffer another heartbreaking result the following week with a 12-10 home loss to Virginia Tech, as well as a 19-9 loss to #16 Penn State in State College. Despite those disappointing defeats, WVU finished the regular season at 8-2-1, a #17 ranking in the AP Poll, and a trip to the Gator Bowl to face #14 Clemson. The Mountaineers faltered, however, losing 27-7 and finished the season at 8-3-1 with a #21 ranking in the final AP Poll.