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Bulls’ win maintains marquee matchup

Everything is in place for the Bulls to become the Big East power they envisioned becoming since entering the Big East Conference two seasons ago.

The Bulls were selected No. 18 in two national polls, students are camping out for tickets and two players from the top-run defense in the conference have been named national players of the week. USF has shed its “program on the rise” title.

As Louisville lost its second game of the season, its ranking and its first game in conference play, the top three teams in the Big East have quickly become West Virginia, Rutgers and South Florida.

On Friday, the No. 5 Mountaineers come to Tampa, and USF has the opportunity to establish itself as the marquee program in the conference.

West Virginia’s trio of runners, quarterback Pat White and running backs Steve Slaton and Noel Devine, have given the Mountaineers the second best rushing attack in the nation, averaging 357 yards per game.

“They’re as good as there is in America, we know that,” coach Jim Leavitt said. “We know we’re going to have to play

exceptionally well.”

Through the first three games of the season, the Bulls’ defense has done just that. USF has allowed a conference-low 79 rushing yards per game, and George Selvie has emerged as the most dominant defensive lineman in college football.

The sophomore leads the nation in both sacks (8.5) and tackles for a loss (14.5), and his three-sack performance against North Carolina earned him Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“His numbers are

unbelievable,” defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said.?”George is successful because of the way he practices every day. He prepares the right way and the results are showing.”

Nate Allen was named FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against

then-ranked No. 17 Auburn.

The fifth highest attendance in USF history, 37,753, saw USF defeat North Carolina 37-10. A crowd nearly double that size is expected to see Friday’s game, not to mention the millions of fans tuning in on ESPN 2.

When the two teams met just five games ago, the Bulls ended West Virginia’s bid at a BCS bowl with their 24-19 victory in Morgantown, W.Va.

“They might want to get revenge on us for spoiling their season last year,” linebacker Brouce Mompremier said. “But we want to get revenge on them beating us at Ray Jay two years back. It could be revenge for both of us.”