MORGANTOWN - Bill Stewart was quick to point out last Saturday the effect that West Virginia's loud home crowd had on Maryland. And after watching the Terrapins call one timeout, be penalized once for illegal procedure and no fewer than three times for delay of game and back themselves into a third-and-28 situation on their first series alone, it is hard to argue the point.
"I go back to the West Virginia nation,'' Stewart said. "I thought they got [Maryland] flustered from the get-go. I know they did. And that really sets the tempo, not only against [Maryland], but for us. It got our young men all pumped up.''
There's no question about that.
"Since 2007, that's the loudest our crowd has been,'' defensive tackle Scooter Berry said after the Mountaineers' 31-17 win. "They play a big part. That's why they have crowd favorites in video games.''
There is a flip side to being spurred on by a rowdy home crowd, of course, and just as Maryland discovered it last weekend, West Virginia is likely to see the other side this weekend.
The No. 22 Mountaineers (3-0) meet No. 15 LSU Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Perhaps no other stadium in the country is as loud and as disconcerting to visitors as is Tiger Stadium, especially for a night game.
"We know it will be loud. We know it will be hostile,'' Stewart said. "And you know what? That's OK. That's really good. We had that same situation at Auburn and we handled it well for about three quarters. And then we just fell apart in the fourth quarter. But we've been in some pretty tough, hostile situations.''
Indeed, West Virginia has played in some hostile environments in recent seasons. In addition to loud - although generally smaller - Big East venues, the Mountaineers also have seemed to draw the worst luck in bowl games. Think back to five of the team's last six bowl appearances that were essentially home games for the opponent - twice against Florida State in Jacksonville, against Georgia in the displaced Sugar Bowl in Atlanta, the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma and even the Meineke Car Care Bowl against North Carolina in Charlotte.
But perhaps none of those games fit into that category of a hostile environment better than Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn, where the Mountaineers played last season.
And, yes, West Virginia handled it well for a while. The Mountaineers ran out to quick 14-0 and 21-10 leads over the Tigers and still led 30-27 in the fourth quarter. Things fell apart late, though, and Auburn won 41-30.
And now comes LSU.