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by Chris Errington
(September 1) MORGANTOWN -- It's safe to say football fever has hit Morgantown.
"It's crazy," wide receiver Shawn Foreman said. "Everywhere you go people keep asking if we're ready. Students, fans, everyone. The first day of classes my teacher called my name on the roll call and asked me if I'm ready."
As West Virginia prepares to play Ohio State on Saturday, the players say they expected this type of reaction since the Mountaineers are playing the No. 1 team in the nation for only the sixth time in school history and first since 1992. What they didn't expect was the same reaction from family.
With the game sold out for months and scalpers getting hundreds of dollars over ticket price for prime seats, some players have suddenly been besieged with phone calls from relatives they never knew they had.
"I told people to talk to my dad," senior nose guard John Thornton said. "We only get four of them, so I can't get anyone else tickets. I took the phone off the hook because it was ringing too much."
Wide receiver David Saunders ran into the same problem.
"There's going to be someone in my family watching from home," Saunders said. "I know someone's going to be mad at me for that."
While most players agreed that Saturday's game will be the biggest they've ever played in, for Saunders and Foreman the outcome has already been decided -- on Sony Playstation.
"We usually play West Virginia against Ohio State," Foreman said. "I just throw the ball all over the place and the last time I caught a ton of passes."
"He beats me every time," Saunders added.
Both know the game will be won on the field, not in their living room.
With Ohio State verbally committed to stopping West Virginia's Heisman Trophy candidate running back Amos Zereoue, the duo could see ample man-to-man coverage. And despite boasting what many consider the nation's best secondary with cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Ahmed Plummer, Foreman said the Buckeyes' ploy would be a mistake.
"If they put everyone in there to stop Amos, we're probably going to have to win the game," Foreman said. "They've got some good cover guys, but it's going to be tough for them to cover us man-to-man. We've got so many great athletes that someone's going to get open."
Saunders said, "We'll only see single coverage IF they stop the run. And if they do they'll pay because they can't cover us all game like that."
Many Mountaineer players expect a wild scene Saturday night, similar to the one when WVU upset fourth-ranked Miami in 1993.
That night, the north end zone goal posts were trampled and carried down town and burning couches were a common site.
But if West Virginia can duplicate the feat, don't expect to see anyone from the team among the crazed fans.
"I told my dad not to even look for me after the game," linebacker Barrett Green said.
"I'm getting to the locker room as fast as I can."