NEW ORLEANS -- West Virginia and Florida are approaching Bourbon Street from different directions.
New Year's Day will mark the Mountaineers' first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1954, and West Virginia is making the most of the 1 a.m. curfew coach Don Nehlen posted from their arrival Sunday through last night.
"Go to Bourbon Street, and you'll find more than half of our team," said linebacker Tim Brown, who's from McKeesport, Pa. "I've been there every day since we've been here. We earned this, and we're going to enjoy it. This place is crazy."
Florida, which has always had the reputation of a party school, enjoyed the night life a tad too much two years ago.
In its first Sugar Bowl in 18 years, the Gators led Notre Dame 22-17 before losing, 39-28.
"Two years ago, we had guys throwing up in practice," offensive guard Jim Watson said. "We had too good a time then, but I think our attitude is different. You can tell in the morning who went out and partied and who didn't, and I'm not seeing that as much."
Steve Dunlap, the West Virginia defensive coordinator, was talking about the help he got in devising schemes that would stop Florida's state-of-the-art passing attack.
"It's a funny thing," Dunlap said. "We know nothing about the Southeastern Conference or Auburn. We didn't play anyone who played them,but coaches like to help other coaches. You just do that."
Think Dunlap, who was an assistant at Navy in 1981 and '82, didn't get advice from Bobby and Terry Bowden, the Florida State and Auburn coaches who dealt Florida its only losses?
Bobby Bowden was the head coach of West Virginia when Dunlap set the school record for tackles in a season that still stands.
Terry Bowden was one of Dunlap's Mountaineers teammates.
West Virginia's anger over the possibility that it can go 12-0 and still not win a national championship seems to have quelled, although Nehlen hasn't entirely given up the fight.
"I think if we win the game, then there's going to be co-champions," Nehlen said, "because I think that any football team that can become 12-0 is going to get a piece of the national championship."
"I agree with Coach Nehlen," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "If they go 12-0, they certainly deserve to be a national champion. Anybody that goes 12-0, at the level of play they've played, deserves a share."
Terry Dean will remain the Florida quarterback, as redshirt freshman Danny Wuerffel is out with a knee injury from the Florida State game Nov. 27. Wuerffel started six of the Gators' 11 games. . . . Florida held a mini-camp in Tampa before coming here. . . . West Virginia has 18 players from Florida, and only Pennsylvania and West Virginia itself have contributed more to the Mountaineers' roster.