Leavitt reaps benefits of two fourth-down gambles

With USF in a close tussle with West Virginia most of Friday night, coach Jim Leavitt elected to go for two fourth downs in his territory, situations where even he acknowledged he might punt more times than not.

They turned out to be very beneficial, though, as the Bulls went on to win 30-19.

The first came on a fourth and one from USF’s 49-yard line with West Virginia leading 7-0 after an 80-yard opening touchdown drive.

The Bulls converted, and on the next play redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels hit wide receiver Carlton Mitchell for a 49-yard touchdown pass to tie it.

“It’s pretty stupid to do what I did, I think, probably,” Leavitt said. “First time, it was really probably foolish, but we got it. I really wanted to get a spark going and (keep) something happening … It really opened up the game.”

Perhaps a bigger risk came in the fourth quarter, with USF leading 27-19 and facing a fourth and inches from its 41-yard line. Daniels converted on a quarterback sneak, leading to a 44-yard field goal by junior walk-on Eric Schwartz.

“I was not going to let that ball placement stop us,” Leavitt said. “That just bothered me. That was more me just being angry. You’ve got to be careful. If a person punted in that situation, they’re probably doing the right thing.”

Mitchell’s X-rays come up negative

Mitchell left the game with what he said was a high ankle sprain. He said he was X-rayed but it came up negative.

Mitchell, who said he expects to play Nov. 12 at Rutgers, caught five passes for 132 yards and jumped from fifth to second on USF’s all-time receiving yards lists. He has 1,352 career receiving yards, second to Hugh Smith, who has 1,523.

Schwartz shines

Schwartz may be putting USF’s kicking woes to rest, going 3-for-3 during the win. He connected from 26, 30 and 44 yards.

Schwartz, who entered 3-of-6 on the season, is the third player in the Big East this season to be perfect with more than three attempts during a game.

“What a night he had,” Leavitt said. “Tremendous night.”

USF No. 25 in BCS

With the win, the Bulls jumped to No. 25 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday evening.

USF is receiving 65 votes in the USA Today/Coaches’ top 25 poll – the most votes received by a team outside the top 25.

At 6-2, the Bulls are still behind two teams with 5-3 records: Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, which are both ranked in each major poll.

Other notes

Senior Nate Allen wore Keeley Dorsey’s No. 10 jersey Friday, honoring the former USF player who died after a conditioning workout in 2007 … Redshirt freshman Mark Popek made his first career start, replacing junior Jake Sims at right tackle … The announced crowd of 56,328 was the seventh largest home crowd in school history.