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WVU prepping against UNLV 'trap'

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia plays UNLV on Saturday and opens Big East Conference play at home against South Florida five days later.

While the Mountaineers (3-1) say they aren't overlooking the 1-4 Rebels, some say it's harder to stay focused on this weekend's game with such a quick turnaround.

Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff is what many call a "trap game," and West Virginia's seniors and coaching staff are making sure the entire program doesn't have a second-straight loss and a letdown heading into Big East play next week.

"They better know that our whole emphasis is on the UNLV Rebels," said Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart. "If we don't know that, they're going to be real sad come seven o'clock. That would be heartbreak."

Three of UNLV's losses have come to Top 25 teams: Wisconsin, Utah and, most recently, Nevada. Stewart said the Rebels competed strong against all three of those opponents and didn't quit.

"They're playing hard. They were in that ballgame against (Nevada) and had Utah on their heels," Stewart said. "Anyone who thinks we can walk or skip out there Saturday and it will be a cakewalk, there will be a lot of heartache in Morgantown Saturday night."

After Saturday's game, though, West Virginia won't have long to prepare for its Oct. 14 date with the Bulls.

"It can be tough physically. It usually takes until about Wednesday to get your legs back, but then you have to play Thursday," said West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. "We'll be prepared for it, and we're just going to prepare for it as usual."

Smith said he has watched film of South Florida this week while he continued to prepare for UNLV.

"It's not looking past UNLV or anything, just over-preparing myself because it is such a short time between games," Smith said.

Having such a long time to prepare for the team's next game after its 20-14 loss to LSU on Sept. 25 has given the team time to look at South Florida, Smith said. It has also allowed the team to get some much-needed rest leading up to Big East play.

"It's been good and bad," Smith said. "Good that we've had time to rest up and get players ready for this Big East run, but it's bad because you still have that bad taste in your mouth."

The Mountaineers squarely are focused on its season goal of winning the Big East for the first time since 2007 and heading to a BCS bowl for the first time since that season, as well.

"Winning the conference and going to a BCS bowl is first," said senior linebacker J.T. Thomas. "There are so many things that we have in front of us, so we're definitely taking this game as a stepping stone into the Big East and other things."

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