WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

About USF…

Since you’re wondering, South Florida’s loss last night doesn’t change the outlook for West Virginia too much other than if the Mountaineers needed the Bulls to lose twice, the Mountaineers first needed the Bulls to lose once. All it really means right now is that only one team can finish unbeaten in Big East play … and I’ll come out and say Connecticut won’t do it. 

So the BCS spot for the conference champ is still in play, though a lot still hinges on what USF does. It’s convoluted — if WVU beats Rutgers, which beat USF, and WVU and USF finish 7-1, USF is the Big East champ – and too early to begin to decipher. WVU’s best chance for the BCS is to win out accept an at-large invitation. Trust me on this.

As for the Bulls, let’s just say a lot of people are happy to see them knocked down a notch.

Despite the best efforts of their head-in-the-sand head coach, Jim Leavitt, the Bull had begun to act as if they were entitled to their success. Some actions earned them enemies and, not coincidentally, there were 44,267 hostile combatants at Rutgers Stadium last night.

This all started earlier this season when USF moved to — wait for it — 2-0 by beating Auburn. 

Receiver Taurus Johnson even went as far as to suggest USF has nudged into the same company as the Sunshine State’s most successful programs — Florida, Florida State and Miami.

“I thought we were already in the Big Three,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know Miami was still in there.”

The Bulls bravado swelled following the win against the Yankees West Virginia and was ready to burst after a brutal 64-12 beatdown of “rival” Central Florida. 

“I hope they like what happened, because we weren’t trying to run the score up on them,” USF quarterback Matt Grothe said. “We’re that much better than them.” 

More? Sure!

“I don’t think it was good enough,” Clebert said. “I told [Coach Jim] Leavitt we should have gone for an onside kick at the end, because they would have done the same thing.”

Can you act liek you’ve been there if you’ve never been there? Well, the Bulls couldn’t play the type of game they like to talk, even against a beatable Rutgers — three turnovers, a wild/injured Mike Teel at quarterback and two empty possessions in Rutgers territory in the final 4:09 while trailing by a field goal. 

The defense was beaten by Rutgers running back Ray Rice from the first snap onward. Rice will do that to a lot of teams, of course, but physicality beats speed and watch more teams hit the Bulls with draw plays that draw the fast defense out of position to tackle the running back.

To be fair, USF gave up 10 points on special teams fakes — a fake punt that set up a field goal and a gutsy fake field goal that was covered, but still went for a touchdown. Don’t bail on a defense that is still fast and frightening.

As for Grothe, he’s a good quarterback who had a bad game last night and made two critical errors at the most critical time. He absolutely cannot take that sack on the final drive with no timeouts remaining and he cannot spike the ball on second-and-22 to waste another play. He also couldn’t find a way around the spying defender and was repeatedly questioned by the broadcast for throwing rather than running. Remember, Grothe is a great runner and his movement makes him a dangerous player. Instead, he was sacked seven times and lost 60 yards. Three sacks came on the last two drives.

Then there was special teams, and we’ll recall USF was fortunate to escape Auburn after Delbert Alvarado missed four field goals. True, good teams make their own luck, and that was a significant victory, but what are we to make of USF allowing the two fakes, missing a field goal and having one blocked? Additionally, Rutgers fumbled away two punts and that went toward 10 points for USF, pretty much negating Rutgers’ 10 points off fakes.

So it came down to something special that always defines a dream season and Rutgers seemed to offer it up for the Bulls when Rice fumbled at his 39-yard- line with 4:09 to go. Grothe was sacked and threw two incompletions, then followed a Rutgers punt with that dreadful final drive.

Uncharacteristic, perhaps, but that doesn’t matter.