Scenes from West Virginia

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- College football is more than just what happens on the field. It's the tradition, the tailgating and you, the fans.

So in that spirit, I'm going to try to give you a taste of the gameday atmospheres at the places I visit and take the pulse of the average fans.

My first stop was West Virginia, home of perhaps the Big East's biggest fan base. The parking lots were jammed with tents, grills, campers and revelers as the Mountaineers' faithful welcomed the start of the season on a humid afternoon.

Members of the Central Pennsylvania chapter of the West Virginia Alumni Association invited me to their pre-game tailgating spot in the Green Lot. They had a tent set up outside Todd Berkich's fire engine red Chevrolet HHR with white pinstripes, which becomes a source of concern during Louisville-West Virginia week. Optimism about the year ahead abounded.

"I think if we play to our ability and keep focused the whole year, we'll have a real chance to play for the national title," said Berkich, a 29-year-old fan from Mechanicsburg, Penn.

"I think we'll lose one," said Tom Bold, 39, from Harrisburg, Penn. "I'm worried about the Colorado game."

"We do have a really good schedule," Berkich said. "If we win the Big East and go undefeated, I don't see how any voter can keep us out of the championship game."

The fans I talked to expressed a lot of confidence in new head coach Bill Stewart and his assistants and were hoping Rich Rodriguez struggled at Michigan.

This weekend: Cincinnati at Oklahoma.