Sixth-ranked West Virginia University used 61 players in last Saturday’s 42-10 football victory over Marshall.

Even so, coach Rich Rodriguez reiterated after that game, “We need to play more people on both sides of the ball.”

Well, WVU might well start doing that in today’s game against Eastern Washington’s Eagles at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium.

That NCAA Division I-AA team is playing against the highest-ranked team in its history and before by far the largest crowd ever.

And EWU is coming off a 56-17 loss at Oregon State 10 days ago.

A turnout of 60,000 fans is expected for the 1 p.m. kickoff. The forecast is for a mostly sunny, 80-degree afternoon. There's no TV.

However, WVU announced Friday evening that a limited number of single tickets will be available today starting st 11 a.m. at the stadium ticket windows.

These are single seats and not combinations or blocks of tickets.

“Playing a program at this level will provide a great environment and experience for our team,” said Paul Wulff, the visitors’ head coach.

“The atmosphere will be a lot different than what we are accustomed to. But it will be a good test of where our players see themselves.

“We fully expect to do well and play good football. And we are excited for the challenge.”

Rodriguez said, “We’ve just got to get our guys excited to play, and I think they will be. If you can’t get up for just 12 games, there’s something wrong with you.”

He remembers how his teams at Glenville State got cranked up when playing opponents that were clearly superior.

“It’s kinda exciting knowing what you want to do and try to do some tricks or whatever and catch somebody off guard,” Rodriguez said.

“And if you get momentum all of a sudden, the bigger, favored team will start to panic and lose focus. It’s hard for the favorite to get up a lot of times.”

While the Mountaineers vow to approach this game just as they would any other, building a big lead early and substituting more could be beneficial and also timely.

That’s because WVU faces a short week to prepare for next Thursday night’s bigger battle against Maryland on national television.

Quarterback Patrick White and tailback Steve Slaton in particular could see limited action, game conditions permitting score-wise.

White passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns against Marshall. He also netted 48 yards rushing on seven keeper plays.

Slaton ran 33 times for a net 203 yards and two touchdowns.

WVU also could utilize more young players at several positions on defense as well as offense to give them some early-season game experience.

This won’t be EWU’s first trip to Morgantown. It played Fairmont State in 1967 at old Mountaineer Field and bowed 28-21 in the NAIA championship contest.

Wulff said, “We are going back there and compete and see what happens. When you play hard, you give yourself a chance to do good things. That’s our goal.

“We want to get better from our first game, and there is a lot of room for improvement. It’s about teaching and coaching, and that’s what we have to do.”

Eastern Washington played two quarterbacks against Oregon State. Junior Chris Peerboom completed 3 of 8 passes for just 23 yards before suffering a concussion. Redshirt freshman Matt Nichols took over and connected on 9 of 18 passes for 117 yards.

Tailback Ryan Cole was the leading rusher with 29 yards on 13 carries. But the team had a net of minus-14 rushing.

Oregon State had 22 first downs to 10, 272 yards passing to 140, and 483 total offense yards to 126.

Cole ran nine yards for one touchdown. The other came on Tony Davis’ 60-yard punt return. Brett Bergstrom kicked a 39-yard field goal.

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