Share This Page

Large 'Death Valley' crowd won't faze West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No. 22 West Virginia will travel to "Death Valley" to take on No. 15 LSU on Saturday in front of what is expected to be the second-largest crowd the Mountaineers have encountered.

Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., is widely considered one of if not the most feared stadium to play for an opponent. LSU's record in the venue proves that true; the Tigers are 25-1 in Saturday night home games under coach Les Miles. The team is 31-6 overall in that span.

"This is Tiger Stadium ... 20 years from now, someone will turn to you and ask where you played football at, and if you say LSU the next question will be, 'What was it like?' " Miles said. "I think our team has really chosen to make that experience very special ... so when they have to answer that question years from now, they will answer it as it was unbelievable and spectacular."

West Virginia has just once before played in front of a crowd larger than 90,000. In 1991, the Mountaineers lost to Penn State in front of 96,445. In fact, the Mountaineers have never beaten an opponent in its history in front of more than 75,008 fans.

WVU coach Bill Stewart joked he may borrow a tiger from the Pittsburgh Zoo to try to simulate some of the atmosphere his team will experience Saturday, but his administration might not be keen on the idea. More seriously, though, Stewart said the team won't prepare much differently for this weekend's game. WVU pumped music into its indoor practice facility Tuesday to try to prepare for the crowd noise.

"It is southern hospitality at its best. When you go into Auburn or any other SEC school, they do it right. It is a good trip," Stewart said. "Football is important to those people. I look at this trip as a challenge, but we are just going down to play ball. ... We're not going down there just for the bus ride."

West Virginia does have experience playing in SEC stadiums. The Mountaineers took on Auburn last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a 41-30 loss.

In that game, then-starting quarterback Jarrett Brown was injured and forced then-true freshman quarterback Geno Smith into the game.

Smith said that experience will be useful when playing in front of 92,400 fans at Tiger Stadium.

"I didn't get major playing time against Auburn, but just having that experience will help me," Smith said.

The Mountaineers are happy to take an underdog role heading into Saturday's game. That's a spot in which the WVU program has flourished.

"We like shutting people up and closing their mouths by quieting the crowd," WVU fullback Ryan Clarke said. "Being underdogs heading into this game just gives us a boost."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.