Stew's Views: Ready for RU

While his team's best performance of the season is only three days behind him, WVU head coach Bill Stewart said the Mountaineers would have to quickly refocus if they hope to earn a win in their regular-season finale this Saturday.

"Our guys need to get up and stay focused -- don't worry about game 13 and forget about game 11," said Stewart. "We've got to get Pitt out of our mind and don't worry about bowls, this, that and whatever."

That may be easier said than done after what was an emotional 19-16 victory over arch-rival Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl last Friday night.

While that game will stand on its own merits for the 23 seniors who played their last game in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium that night, a win this weekend at Rutgers would go a long way towards helping those seniors secure a better bowl berth -- quite possibly in the Gator Bowl, if circumstances fall into place -- for the last game of their West Virginia careers.

That fact (and the solid play of head coach Greg Schiano's Scarlet Knights) should help Stewart earn the attention of his team in practice this week.

"They're hitting on all cylinders," the second-year WVU coach said of this week's opponent. "Greg has them just rolling. They dismantled Louisville and certainly dismantled South Florida, and we struggled with both."

Still, RU may not be at full strength for this weekend's matchup in Piscataway, N.J. Star receiver Tim Brown was termed as "day-to-day" by Schiano in his press conference on Monday.

Defensive lineman Justin Francis and tight end Shamar Graves are also questionable as they deal with injury issues as well.

That doesn't mean that Stewart expects the regular season finale to be easy.

"This is going to be the biggest game of the year for us," he said. "I truly hope we can go give that effort we gave (in a 24-21 loss) at Cincinnati. If not, we're going to get beat. I hope we can go in with the mentality we had last year (in a 35-13 win) at Connecticut."

"This is a big, big game for them as well as us."

While the contest is important for both schools, as they try to improve their position in the pecking order for the Big East Conference's bowl berths, it is hardly the big show in the league this weekend.

Those honors are reserved for Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, who will play for the Big East title and the BCS bowl berth that goes with it it.

Stewart insists that there is still plenty up for grabs when the Mountaineers and Scarlet Knights meet this Saturday.

"It will effect everything from recruiting to the standings," he said. "We want to be as high as we can in the standings. We can't win the Big East championship, but we can sure get up there close to the top with this win."

"That's what it's all about in recruiting. It's the pride of the league -- I want to do well and I know our seniors want to go out a winner and this football team wants to go out a winner. We've had two good games back to back. I just hope we can have a third one."

That the season finale for the Bearcats and Panthers will decide the conference championship is sort of a happy accident for league officials, as the Big East is one of the conferences that will not be playing an official "championship game" this weekend.

Still, by playing several games on the first Saturday of December, the league gets the chance to steal a bit of the spotlight on a day in which those conferences play their title games.

"I like the way we play," Stewart said. "It's great for the Big East. We have some teams that will be showcased -- six, as a matter of fact, which is awesome. There's a Big East title on the line."

"There's a lot at stake. To be showcased is very neat. It hurts our recruiting a little bit because everyone (else) in America gets out (on recruiting trips). They're out this week and we're not. But that's okay. I'll take that tradeoff any time for that TV game, believe me."

BlueGoldNews Top Stories