WVU in Lone Star state of mind
In 2009 West Virginia lost, 41-30, at Auburn. A year later,the Mountaineers played LSU in Baton Rouge and fell, 20-14. Last season WVU routed Clemson, 70-33, at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Several key players from those teams are members of this year's No. 8 Mountaineers, who face No. 11 Texas at 7 p.m. Saturday in 100,119-seat Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Junior defensive tackle Will Clarke doesn't consider playing on the road against a Top-20 opponent in front of a hostile crowd to be a disadvantage.
“Our coaches prepare us for playing on the road,” said Clarke, who starred at Allderdice. “We've played games all over. We may have to fly a little longer to get to places like Texas, but it's something we're used to doing.”
Saturday's game is the first of consecutive road games for WVU, both in Texas. Next week the Mountaineers travel across the state to face Texas Tech in Lubbock.
WVU also has conference road games this season at Oklahoma State (Oct. 10) and Iowa State (Nov. 23).
“The one thing that's so cool about being at WVU is these kids really don't care much about that, to be honest with you,” said coach Dana Holgorsen, who played in Austin regularly as a Big 12 assistant and lived in Lubbock for several years. “They've played in BCS games. Over the last three or four years, they've played at LSU and Auburn. They've been at some big places, and they've been in some big games. I can assure you they won't be intimidated.”
Where the Mountaineers' longest trip as members of the Big East was to Tampa, Fla., about a two-hour flight, they will fly at least an hour longer to Austin, Lubbock, Stillwater, Okla., and Ames, Iowa.
WVU will travel farther to its Big 12 games than any team in the conference.
No problem, according to Holgorsen.
“That's obviously been a big topic of discussion. It's not going to affect us. You've got to be smart about it,” Holgorsen said.
“Last year it didn't matter if we were getting on a plane and flying one hour and getting on a plane and flying two hours to Tampa, Florida. The road games are going to be an airplane ride. You're going to jump on a plane and fly a couple hours no matter where you go. From a travel standpoint, I don't view it as being a big deal.”
“It's football,” Clarke said. “We're going to play a football game. We're excited about the challenge.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.