TAMPA, Fla. - West Virginia University football Coach Dana Holgorsen has spent this season insisting that not one game is more important than the other.
This week he upped the ante for what happens tonight at Raymond James Stadium.
"This game is what this team is going to be remembered for," he said. "You can take the rest of the games and you can delete them. You can erase them. You can forget them. What this team is going to be remembered for is what happens at South Florida."
The 22nd-ranked Mountaineers play at 8 p.m. (ESPN telecast) inside a stadium where they haven't won at since 2005. They must end that streak if they want to share the Big East championship for a second straight season, and that's a prerequisite for getting to the BCS for the first time in four years.
A loss sends them to an second-tier bowl, likely the Belk Bowl, in Charlotte, N.C., but that is not their concern. They want the BCS.
A win would move WVU to 9-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big East and create a tie for first place in the conference with Louisville.
The Cardinals beat WVU at Mountaineer Field last month, though, and have the tiebreaker if those two end up as the only 5-2 teams.
A third team can go 5-2 and, in truth, Cincinnati will have a lot to do with how the Mountaineers are to be remembered.
A WVU win followed by a Cincinnati win at home Saturday against Connecticut makes the Bearcats 9-3 and 5-2 and creates a three-way tie for first place. WVU, Louisville and Cincinnati all have one win and one loss among themselves, which creates a need for a second tie-breaker the Mountaineers own because they're ranked highest in the BCS.
The Mountaineers can win the game and share the championship, no matter what the Bearcats do two days from now, but need a Cincinnati win to make the season more memorable, even if they say otherwise.
"It doesn't matter at all," WVU senior defensive tackle Julian Miller said. "If we win, we're definitely Big East champs. We can say we're Big East champs and you can't complain about that. We're going to have that trophy coming here.
"They'll have a poster or a banner or something with the numbers to go in the weight room that says, '2011 Big East Champion.' The main focus coming into this game is the conference championship."
That's been WVU's only goal since the loss to the Cardinals gave them two losses in the Big East and dropped them behind no-loss Cincinnati and one-loss Louisville.
Then the Mountaineers won at Cincinnati the same day Louisville lost to Pitt. When WVU was off, Cincinnati lost again to Rutgers.