While Tate is the only player on West Virginia's roster who hails from Mississippi, he is certainly not the only one from the deep south. Defensive lineman Craig Wilson (River Ridge, La.), quarterback Patrick White (Daphne, Al.), receiver Darius Reynaud (Boutte, La.), safety Trippe Hale (Mobile, Al.) safety Abraham Jones (Prichard, Al.) and defensive lineman Warren Young (Semmes, Al.) will also be returning to the deep south.
"We're all pretty happy, because up here a lot of the parents from the deep south don't get to make it to the games," said Wilson, a senior. "People from Louisiana, Alabama, and other states in the deep south will get to go to this game and support their family."
Tate's teammates at Noxubee County High School included Mississippi State quarterback Omarr Conner, and Bulldogs receiver Joey Sanders. In fact, Sanders and Tate have been close friends for some time.
"He lived maybe three houses down from me, so we were really good friends growing up," said Tate.
White, West Virginia's sophomore quarterback, was recruited by several SEC schools, including Mississippi State. Current head coach Sylvester Croom was hired during White's senior year at Daphne High, and expressed interest in Patrick during the recruiting game.
"I enjoyed it when he came to my house," White recalled. "I enjoyed our conversation a lot. He came in the recruiting game just a little bit late, I guess."
White will have several family members in attendance on Saturday, as will many of his teammates from down South. His father, Bo, has arranged for two busloads of people to make the five and a half hour trip from Daphne to Starkville to watch Saturday's game.
"I think it's more intense if anything. You've been on a break for a while, and you want to play somebody different," said defensive tackle Keilen Dykes. "It's kind of like coming out of fall camp again. You're tired of hitting the same people over and over. I think the intensity will be there, especially with everyone having a chance to heal up. It'll be like a fresh start."
Added fullback Owen Schmitt, "You're definitely ready to get back into it. Everyone is rested up and ready to go."
On the flipside, the Mountaineers have been very good on the road under Coach Rod. The former West Virginia defensive back is now 17-5 in road games at WVU since 2002, and 17-10 overall.