WVU football: Texas crowd expected to be largest to ever see WVU play
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - No. 8 West Virginia's game at No. 11 Texas figures to have the largest crowd to ever see the Mountaineers play.
The Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) play home games at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which seats 100,119.
WVU (4-0, 1-0) has never played for more than 96,445, but will likely top that at 7 p.m. Saturday (Fox telecast).
"Probably one of the best environments that exists in college football is in Austin, Texas," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
He's been there five times before with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. His teams were 1-4 with the win coming as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator in 2010.
"I'll be able to lay it out for them a little bit, but one thing that's so cool about being at WVU is these kids don't care much about that, to be honest with you," Holgorsen said. "They've played in BCS games. They've played in specific venues over the course of the last few years, like LSU and Auburn, that were big venues and big games.
"The kids are excited about that, I can assure you. They won't be intimidated, but they will be excited to go in there."
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MOUNTAINEER FIELD'S capacity is 60,000 but it can accommodate more, like it did Saturday when 60,012 watched WVU defeat Baylor.
Texas sold a school-record 84,071 season tickets in 2010. In 1997, Texas sold just 39,724, which is about 1,500 more than WVU's max for season ticket sales.
"It's one of the premier programs in the country," Holgorsen said. "Their tradition is fantastic. Their facilities are fantastic. Their support is fantastic. It's going to be a tremendous environment."
Texas has sold out 71 of its past 74 home games and has had at least 100,101 in attendance 19 times since the start of the 2009 season.
"It's a pretty nice place," Holgorsen said. "They've done a lot of work to it to get to over 100,000. It's big, manicured. There'll be a lot of people, there'll be a lot of cheerleaders, there will be a longhorn in the end zone. It's pretty nice."
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WEST VIRGINIA'S seniors and juniors played at LSU in a night game with 92,575 inside Tiger Stadium in 2010. The seniors played for 87,451 at Auburn in 2009 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The only larger crowd to see the Mountaineers play is the 96,445 at Beaver Stadium in 1991, the last time WVU played at Penn State.
WVU lost all three of those games.
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WITH THE Bowl Championship Series disappearing after next season, no team has been more consistently a part of the BCS than Texas.
The Longhorns have been in 93 BCS rankings, the most in college football and eight greater than Florida and Virginia Tech. Texas is also the only team that was ranked in 12 of the 13 final BCS rankings - including four in the top four.
A record streak of 56 straight BCS rankings ended in 2010, which was the one season Texas was not in the final BCS ranking.
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ANOTHER STARTLING streak ended last week. The road win against No. 22 Oklahoma State ended a seven-game losing streak against ranked teams. The prior win against a ranked opponent was at No. 5 Nebraska in 2010. The Longhorns then dropped three to top-10 teams in the seven-game slide.
Texas has won 28 of its past 43 games against ranked teams, but has dropped five in a row at home against ranked teams. The last home win against a top-25 opponent was Oct. 25, 2008, against Oklahoma State.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, have won three in a row and 12 of 20 against ranked teams.
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MUCH OF the focus for the game goes to how the Texas defense will handle the WVU offense and how the WVU defense will manage against the Texas offense. Both teams can score in other ways, though.
WVU has two non-offensive touchdowns this season - and fell a yard short of a third - and had a school record-six last season. The Longhorns have two this season. Since 2001, WVU has 33 touchdowns on punt, kick, or turnover returns. Texas is even better with 82 non-offensive touchdowns since 1999, second only to Kansas State and Virginia Tech's 83.
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TEXAS RETURNS seven starters on defense, plus two others who started at least one game. The Longhorns also return nine starters on offense, plus five others who started at least one game in 2011.
Yet Texas is also one of the younger teams in the nation.
The Longhorns have nine scholarship seniors, tied with Marshall, Wisconsin and Alabama for the fourth-lowest total in the country. FBS teams area allowed to grant 85 scholarships.
"It's kind of amazing to me," Holgorsen said. "You look at their depth chart and see all these returning starters, but they're still young."
Texas, TCU, LSU and Ohio State have each played a NCAA-high 15 true freshmen this season. A year ago Texas led the nation by playing 18 true freshmen.
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ONLY MIAMI and USC have more former players in the NFL than the Longhorns. The Hurricanes and Trojans both boast 47, while Texas has 40, with 25 of those are on defense - 10 defensive backs, eight defensive linemen and seven linebackers.
Since Coach Mack Brown arrived in 1998, Texas has had eight top-10 draft picks, second only to UCS's 10, and a NCAA-high six top-five picks. Texas leads the Big 12 in both, as well as top-30 picks (12), top-100 picks (100) and top-150 picks (38) in the past 10 years.
In Brown's 14 seasons, 68 players have been drafted and 52 were picked in the first four rounds.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymai.com/wvu.