BLUEFIELD — Every team wants to play their best at the right time. West Virginia seems to be doing exactly that.

“I think they’ll do very well from here on out,” Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe said. “They’ve got a very good football team, they’re well-coached and they’re obviously playing well and they’re peaking at the right time of the season.”

West Virginia (10-1) played perhaps its best half of football this season in last Saturday’s 66-21 destruction of Connecticut, scoring 42 unanswered second half points, and rolling up 415 yards on the ground.

The ‘Eers hope to do the same Saturday (7:45 p.m., ESPN) when Pittsburgh (4-7) visits Mountaineer Field for the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl. Forget that record, those numbers don’t matter in a rivalry game.

“You’ve got all kind of factors, you can always talk about the seniors last home game, and that is always a big deal for us,” Rodriguez said. “The rivalry part, Pittsburgh in itself is enough to get you motivated.”

Motivation shouldn’t be a problem against the Panthers, A win and West Virginia should be able to punch its ticket to the BCS championship game, possibly against Missouri or Ohio State.

“The guys know what is at stake, but what we don’t want our guys to do is to play tight,” Rodriguez said. “They understand there is so much on the line, but our guys understand the importance of preparation.

“When the game gets here, I want them to have some fun, let it loose, understand your responsibilities and just play good football.”

There’s nothing Rodriguez would like better than to send West Virginia fans to New Orleans in January. He figures no state deserves a title shot more than the rabid fans that follow the Mountaineers.

“West Virginia has had great support for many, many years,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a small state, a lot of prideful people, they follow our programs, rather it’s football or basketball, and they take a lot of pride in it.

“We have tremendous support. For the size of our school and the size of our state, we probably have more private support than any other school in the country. It’s very humbling to have that.

“I am very fortunate to be the coach here and the players will tell you the same thing. They’ve been very fortunate to have the support they have had.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

bwoodson@bdtonline.com