MORGANTOWN - Bill Stewart swears that this Saturday night for him will be no different than last Saturday afternoon. When Connecticut's football team plays - possibly with West Virginia's postseason fate riding on the outcome - Stewart won't bother to watch.
Well, that might not be entirely true, but at this point he is obliged to say it.
No, he didn't watch a snap of UConn's game against Cincinnati Saturday afternoon. And the same thing was riding on the outcome.
"I've got about 10,000 witnesses in Martinsburg,'' said Stewart, who was there watching his son in a high school football playoff game the same time Connecticut was beating Cincinnati.
But by the time this Saturday night rolls around, all of Stewart's hay figures to be in the barn. And unless a huge upset occurs earlier in the day at Mountaineer Field, the UConn-South Florida game that kicks off at 8 p.m. figures to determine whether West Virginia spends its holidays at a BCS bowl game.
Here's the deal: If West Virginia (8-3, 4-2 Big East) beats decided underdog Rutgers (4-7, 1-5) at noon Saturday, it would then need to have UConn (7-4, 4-2) lose at South Florida (7-4, 3-3) that night in order to win the Big East's automatic berth in a BCS bowl. Without that second part of the equation, WVU wins a share of the league but loses the BCS tie-breakers and its bowl destination now appears to be Charlotte's Meineke Car Care Bowl, although the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando remains a possibility.
Stewart, though, doesn't want to do anything to get off of the Mountaineers' immediate - and only controllable - task, which is beating Rutgers.
"If we beat Rutgers, then we're league champs,'' Stewart said. "And that was our goal. The rest of that stuff is all for others [to worry about].
"My focus, this team, this staff - Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers.''
In all honesty, failing to beat Rutgers would be a monumental disappointment. The Scarlet Knights have won just twice since Sept. 11, three-point decisions over UConn and Army. They have lost five straight and have given up 109 points the past two games to Cincinnati and Louisville.
Still, no one expected West Virginia to lose the games it did against Syracuse and Connecticut, so nothing with this team is a given, which is why Stewart is adamant in his desire to focus only on Rutgers and not even talk about UConn.