Rutgers is WVU's only concern in drive to Big East title
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia likely will keep a close eye on Connecticut's game at South Florida on Saturday night.
If the No. 23 Mountaineers want to reach their third BCS bowl game in school history, they will need to beat Rutgers at noon that day and hope the Bulls pull the upset. A win is all West Virginia needs to secure a share of the Big East title; only with a UConn loss can the Mountaineers clinch the conference's automatic BCS berth.
"I really don't care if I see one snap Saturday night," coach Bill Stewart said Sunday. "If we beat Rutgers, we are league champs, and that's our goal. Our focus is Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers."
The Mountaineers (8-3, 4-2) would have had a chance to control their destiny if Connecticut (7-4, 4-2) had lost to Cincinnati this past Saturday. Linebacker J.T. Thomas, defensive end Julian Miller and tight end Tyler Urban spent the afternoon tweeting about the game, but UConn prevailed, 38-17.
"We know we're the best team in the Big East," receiver Jock Sanders said. "All that being said, we still have to go out and win another game."
Stewart said he did not watch the UConn/Cincinnati game because he was at his son's high school football game. He did get updates through text message but said, even if he had the opportunity, he wouldn't have watched.
"It does not matter to me," he said. "The only thing that matters to Bill Stewart, this staff and these players is taking care of our business before we worry about somebody else's business."
After their 35-10 win at Pitt in Friday's Backyard Brawl, the players said they can't focus too much on Connecticut's performance.
"We've got to take one game at a time," said receiver Tavon Austin, who cited last year's upset of Pitt and the Panthers' subsequent loss to Cincinnati for the Big East title as an example. "We don't want to look past Rutgers. We will work hard, go out there and try to win -- just like any other game."
The Scarlet Knights (4-7, 1-5) are on a five-game losing streak in which they have given up an average of 38.2 points. They are last in the Big East and can't make a bowl even if they beat West Virginia.
"We need to win this game," Stewart said. "Every waking moment of my life for the next six days is going to be spent on beating Rutgers. I will not sleep."
NOTES: A report Saturday night on a West Virginia fan site said Stewart would retire after this season. Yesterday, Stewart said he has no intention of doing that. "The reports of my retirement are greatly exaggerated," he said. "I have absolutely no intention of walking away." ... Nose tackle Chris Neild injured his hamstring against Pitt, but Stewart said he expects him to play against Rutgers.
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