Bigger Stage

Items big and small make the difference between a BCS bowl and other bowls.

Although that's in no way meant to demean some of WVU's bowl destinations of past years, there's something a bit different about BCS atmosphere. Several players shared their perspectives on those differences and what they are experiencing this week in Atlanta:

Defensive lineman Keilen Dykes:

"There is more to do here than in past bowl games. My cousin, she lives here, came and picked me up and took me around. There are a lot of places to go, and it's easy to get lost. I really enjoyed the ESPN Zone and going out to eat. As a kid, dreaming of playing college football, this is what you think about, playing in a BCS bowl. The Sugar is a huge bowl. This is a TV game, on nationwide. Everybody will be watching us. It's a chance to show people about West Virginia and the University. It's tough, playing a home game, or what almost is a home game, for Georgia on almost its home field. It will be a challenge, and we look forward to it."

Linebacker Jeff Noechel:

"It's been a great journey and a little shocking. I have never been to a city this size. It's amazing coming from Fairmont, W.Va. It does not get any bigger than this, a BCS bowl. I'll have 8-10 family members here. More wanted tickets, but I guess they'll have to find them on their own.

"I never thought this would happen as a college player. It feels great. Coming in as a walk-on and playing in the Sugar Bowl, if you would have told me that would happen five years ago, I would have thought you were crazy.

Defensive Lineman Ernest Hunter:

It's big for us and the school. This is the first time West Virginia University has been in a BCS bowl and it gives us a chance to showcase the school. It's big for the history of the school and its history of bowl games.

It's great for the city of Atlanta and all that it has and can offer. But I am worried about the game and nothing else. This is my last game, and god willing, I would like to try for the NFL. But it is what it is. I will enjoy playing football for as long as I can, and when it's done, it's done.

Running back Owen Schmitt

"I feel blessed. Last year when I had to sit out and do the scout team thing that was fun, but I missed playing a lot. This year has been a total 180. It's been so much fun playing. I have been playing with some great players, and I want to send the seniors out on a great note."

Coming to the bowl s incredible, because I didn't get to come last year since I was sitting out. This year, with it being a really big bowl, it's been a fun experience."

Wide receiver Darius Reynaud

(Reynaud, a Louisiana native, has many family members still battling the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina.)

"In a way it has been difficult having the game moved from New Orleans, but it's still just a few hours away. It didn't stop anybody from coming to the game – they are all going to make it. [Playing in a BCS game] has been a dream for me. When you have the big game, it's just tremendous.

A lot of my family members are still getting things back together, but most of them will be able to make it. I've been talking to my mom every day. She asks me what I'm doing and if I am enjoying the sight and I've been telling her everything we've been doing.

"The one thing I have seen is that we are focused more this year. We don't have any ‘I guys', out there. We have been practicing hard."

Wide receiver Brandon Myles

"It's just a much bigger stage. It's a big deal everywhere we see. There's a lot of media, and more attention to everything we are doing. It's been going well, and we've been having a lot of fun. It's a great experience."

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