| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

West Virginia enters into enemy territory

College Football Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Tony Dobies
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida State's fight song rang out of the speakers as West Virginia players walked off the team's bus for its final practice before Friday's Gator Bowl.

West Virginia coach Bill Stewart expects to hear that song a lot during the game, which will be played in what he considers enemy territory.

"Our players know what they're up against," Stewart said.

Despite the Mountaineers' 9-3 record, they are calling themselves the outsiders against 6-6 Florida State.

"This game is going to be on a big stage," said WVU linebacker J.T. Thomas, who grew up a Florida State fan. "It's real close to Tallahassee, so I'm sure they'll have a lot of 'Noles fans there."

In addition, Florida State will be playing for Bobby Bowden, who is coaching in his final game before retiring.

"He may drive out in a new car and have those 300 ex-players lead him out — that's what they should do," Stewart said.

Stewart said he expects the crowd noise to be "deafening," but West Virginia is accustomed to playing bowl games in enemy territory. WVU is 4-0 in its past four bowl games.

The Mountaineers upset Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl in Atlanta. The next year, the Mountaineers came back from a big halftime deficit to defeat Georgia Tech in the 2007 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

In 2008, WVU lost its coach, Rich Rodriguez, but was still able to upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

Last year, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Mountaineers beat North Carolina in their home state.

Ironically, the Mountaineers' last bowl loss was against Florida State in the 2005 Gator Bowl.

Stewart, who led WVU in the past two bowl wins, said he can't get a good read on his team's mental state.

"We want to have fun, but we also have to work hard," he said. "Can you separate fun from being mentally prepared• That's the thing. These guys have done a good job the last couple of years, I hope this group will be able to do the same thing."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
  2. Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
  3. Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
  4. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  5. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  6. Warrant issued for man accused of killing Brookline woman
  7. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  8. Emails among Governor Wolf’s aides reveal concern over AG Kane
  9. Heyl: Longtime disc jockey Jimmy Roach to turn dismissal into brighter times
  10. Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
  11. Steelers notebook: Tomlin says Latrobe session won’t differ from normal practice