Hype and all, WVU prepared for spotlight

West Virginia and college football fans across the country live for games like this. The No. 16 Mountaineers will take on No. 2 LSU on Saturday in primetime, national television at Milan Puskar Stadium.

WVU players and coaches weren't buying the hype externally this week. Many of the players talked down the magnitude of this game, and that started with the head coach.

"They all count as one win. If you put that much into one, then it takes away from the others," said head coach Dana Holgorsen. "Teams that win championships have to have the ability to understand that and have the ability to be able to prepare each week the same way and put yourself in a position to understand what your opponent is doing and what it's going to take to win the game."

It will be the first top 20 non-conference matchup at Milan Puskar Stadium since Ohio State came to town in 1998. ESPN's College GameDay will be on the Mountainlair Green from 9 a.m. to noon, students will be in record-breaking numbers and there will be gold all through the stadium, as it's a "Gold Rush" and 55,000 gold towels will be placed on stadium bleachers for fans to wave.

No big deal, right?

"In order to get where we want to, and that's winning all 12 games and a BCS national championship, then we can't take any game differently," said senior inside receiver Devon Brown. "I definitely have heard all the hype. It will definitely be a crazy atmosphere."

Brown was among a handful of starters who weren't starters a year ago when the Mountaineers played the Tigers in Baton Rouge, La. They don't know what starting defensive end Bruce Irvin and his fellow, more-experienced players know.

"Last year, we realized we could play with them. Now, we realized that if we executed better we would've had a better chance to win that game," Irvin said of the 20-14 loss. "We feel like we can beat any team in the country, and I don't care if they're No. 1 or No. 2, when they come into our stadium."

In the Big East Conference, West Virginia doesn't necessarily get a chance to play teams like LSU on a weekly basis like other in the SEC do.

The SEC, as the last five national champions have proven, is the pinnacle of college football. There's a certain swagger than SEC teams bring to town, and the Tigers will surely bring that to Mountaineer Field on Saturday.

"They put their pants on one leg at a time just like us," Irvin said.

West Virginia isn't scared. The Mountaineers stared into the tiger's eye last year, and handled their business admirably.

Now, the Mountaineers – coaches, players and fans for that matter – are back for more.

"I'm very excited. In Morgantown, it gets electric at night and especially when it's supposed to be a big game, so I expect the fans to come out and just be going crazy," said WVU quarterback Geno Smith. "I really think our team feeds off that, we're going to need that and I just look forward to Saturday night."

Holgorsen said this hype should continue throughout the season, though, even when the nation isn't looking.

"Everyone should show up and be loud and enjoy it. It needs to be a constant, too. Do you think LSU is used to that? Their place is filled for every game. Regardless of who they play, that's the way it is. That's what we're striving for here," Holgorsen said. "It's not a one-time or one-game thing. The mark of a good program and a competitive program is filling the stadium every time you line up. It needs to happen all the time."


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