Big 12 Opponents Commend WVU on Game Day Atmosphere - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Big 12 Opponents Commend WVU on Game Day Atmosphere


Half of the Big 12 still has no idea what to really expect when their teams come to Morgantown for a football game in the fall. But half of them experienced it last season.

In West Virginia University's first year as a conference member, the Mountaineers finished their home schedule in the league with a 4-5 record. There were barnburners and blowouts, wins and losses, league champions and basement dwellers visiting campus and each came away with a different experience, though many seem impressed with the atmosphere they encountered while they were there.

Aside from Tavon Austin's personal performance in a loss to Oklahoma, the game that stands out on the home schedule was likely that conference-opener against Baylor. Back and forth with touchdowns pouring in from both offenses, the Mountaineers burst onto the Big 12 scene with a bang that even Jonathan Kimble would have envied.

In a 70-63 final, there was plenty of scoring from either team and yet one of the Bears' best returning players, Lache Seastrunk, only carried the ball five times. He says he recalls the game and the excitement when they took the field, but when asked if he remembered anything about the stripe the stadium promotion that became a lasting image from the first season in the Big 12, Seastrunk had no idea it even happened.

"I didn't know that," Seastrunk said.

Clearly, the things that are lasting about a game for a marketing department and those that the losing team remembers are quite different.  

TCU had the game that really went down to the wire with a two-point conversion to win it in double overtime. In beating the Mountaineers, defensive end Jon Koontz still found time to admire what he saw from the WVU faithful.

"The fans definitely stood out," said Koontz. "They stood out in a lot of places we played, but in Morgantown, they don't need the video screen to tell them when to be loud. They know when their team needs momentum and they're behind them from the first quarter on."

Kansas State had little issue taking down the home team in the second of five-straight losses for the Mountaineers after that 5-0 start. The Wildcats won that night in October by a dominating final score of 55-14. One of the players on hand that day, safety Ty Zimmerman, had heard some of what he should expect when he visited Morgantown and the actual experience didn't let him down.

"It was a great experience," said Zimmerman. "Before going there, I heard how hostile it was, what their fans were like, I knew how great their team was and we were fortunate enough to get out to a pretty good lead and create some gap in there. We kind of took their fans out of it, but leading up to the game, I knew it was a great atmosphere, a great place to play."

Now entering year two in the conference, Zimmerman thinks WVU will be better prepared for much of what they'll face, despite the fact that many of the venues will still be new to the Mountaineers.

"I think they definitely fit in [the Big 12]," Zimmerman said. "I know it was hard for them, probably, that first year. Every game is a two- or three-hour flight for them. They had some good success this season, they return a lot of guys, so I know they'll be a team to be reckoned with this season."

It was quite the opposite experience in Morgantown for a visiting Kansas team. When KU came to town, there was nothing on the line for the Jayhawks other than ruining WVU's senior day. They didn't do that. In a 59-10 loss, KU was behind by three touchdowns before it managed its only trip into the end zone of the entire day. 

Crossing the goal line for the Jayhawks was James Sims, the running back who was one of very few bright spots for Kansas last season.

"It was an experience that I've never experienced before," Sims said of visiting WVU. "Morgantown gets pretty wild and pretty crazy and I'm not sure if it was just Senior Day or if they do that week in and week out, but it was pretty wild down there and it was a pretty fun experience."

It isn't very often that a losing team's star tells you that he had fun at that game, but there, Sims said it.

Finally, back to that Oklahoma game when Austin was let loose and did things to the Sooners defense that had never been done before. Clearly OU cornerback Aaron Colvin wasn't thrilled by the results, despite ultimately getting the win, but he says he looks forward to the chance to welcome WVU to Norman in the second week of the upcoming season.

"We felt where they come from last year and they'll feel where we come from this year," said Colvin. "It'll be another high-energy game, hopefully not the same results that we had last year, but it'll be a fun game."

The Mountaineers still have plenty of Big 12 destinations left to see in 2013 and four more conference teams will visit their own campus, starting with Oklahoma State on Sept. 28. 

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