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Bulls topple Mountaineers

The Bulls traveled to Morgantown, W.V. over the Thanksgiving weekend and ignored the three and a half touchdowns the Mountaineers were favored by.

With a bowl eligibility already in tact, USF (8-4, 4-3) upset No. 7 West Virginia (9-2, 4-2) 24-19 on Saturday, ending the Mountaineers chance at an at-large BCS bowl bid and a third straight conference championship.

With two years of Big East play finished, the Bulls have beaten two top-ten teams. Last year, USF upset then-No. 9 Louisville 45-15 at Raymond James Stadium for the program’s first Big East win.

For coach Jim Leavitt, who was visibile emotional following the game, the win against West Virginia is bigger than last year’s victory against the Cardinals because it came on the road.

“This is probably the biggest (win) because you won here, and it’s hard to win here,” Leavitt said. “It’s hard to beat the (Mountaineers).”

West Virginia, which was ranked No. 3 before it lost to Louisville earlier this month, went into the game averaging 40.7 points and 480.7 total yards per game, but the Bulls’ defense was able to hold them to season lows as the Mountaineers scored just 19 points and had 310 offensive yards.

West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez blamed himself and the holiday weekend for the letdown.

“The kids were here all week with no school,” Rodriguez said. “The attention at all meetings and practices was good all week, and I was confident coming in. The coach has to do a better job, and we have to execute better.

“We just messed around this game. I said all year we aren’t good enough to win a game if we mess around.”

Defensive end George Selvie led USF’s defense with a game-high eight tackles, while linebacker Ben Moffitt had seven tackles. Defensive end Josh Julmiste had two sacks to set the Mountaineers back 11 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, West Virginia took a 6-0 lead with two field goals in the second quarter, but the Bulls took the lead for good when defensive lineman Chris Robinson forced quarterback Patrick White to fumble the ball. Selvie then picked up the lose ball and ran it in nine yards for the touchdown, which was USF’s first defensive score this season.

Along with the defense holding the nation’s second-best rushing team to just 132 yards, the Bulls’ offense put up 363 yards on the Mountaineers, almost 70 more than their average prior to Saturday.

With just 35 seconds left in the first half, Grothe scored his ninth rushing touchdown of the season, a 10-yard run capping off a 66-yard drive. Then in the third quarter, Grothe found wide receiver Ean Randolph for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Randolph was initially ruled out of bounds at the one-yard line, but after an official’s review, the play was ruled a touchdown.

“It was a complete game,” Leavitt said. “That was what I wanted more than anything – to play a complete game.”