MORGANTOWN - Bruce Irvin readily admits that the first time he lined up to face LSU, he didn't know what to expect.
Of course, Irvin grew up in Atlanta and in the heart of SEC country. He knows the caliber of football that's played there.
What he didn't know a year ago, when West Virginia went to LSU, was how the team he was playing for would stack up. Were the Mountaineers on that level?
"Yeah, I think everybody wondered that,'' the senior defensive end said. "And I think we proved we did.''
Indeed, West Virginia didn't beat LSU a year ago in Baton Rouge, but it wasn't because the Mountaineers were out of their league. The Tigers needed a punt return and fumble inside the 10-yard line to score their only two touchdowns in a 20-14 win.
So when the teams meet again Saturday night in Morgantown, the Mountaineers no longer have any doubts, right. Well, that's true.
But one gets differing opinions on whether they had any doubts last year, either.
"It's the SEC. They're supposed to be the best conference in the country,'' Irvin said. "It's the No. 2 team in the country. Young guys, they're probably thinking, 'Dang, those guys are big.' But they're the same as us. They put their pants on one leg at a time, same as us.
"Me and the guys that were here last year, we know we can play with them. We just have to go out there and play like we know we can.''
The No. 2 Tigers (3-0) will be in town for an 8 p.m. ABC game against the No. 16 Mountaineers (3-0) Saturday. While this is new territory for a team that has ever been to Morgantown, it's really nothing new at all. LSU has already played two ranked teams, Oregon and Mississippi State, away from home, and so Mountaineer Field isn't likely to intimidate the Tigers.
But nor are the Tigers likely to intimidate the Mountaineers.
"Honestly, I never feel that West Virginia is outclassed, period,'' nose guard Jorge Wright said. "We're able to compete with anybody we play. I don't think it would matter if we were going to LSU or LSU was coming here or whoever we play. They're a great team, but I feel like we're a great team, too.''