MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes and No. 25 West Virginia held South Florida to a season-low for yards in a 20-6 victory over the Bulls on Thursday night.
The Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0 Big East) made the most out of their limited scoring opportunities in a game where neither offense thrived.
The nation's seventh-best defense held South Florida (3-3, 0-2) without an offensive touchdown for the second straight game. Quarterback B.J. Daniels found no room to roam and the Bulls were outgained 298-202.
South Florida's previous low for offense was 219 yards in a 13-9 loss to Syracuse last week
West Virginia jumped ahead 17-3 at halftime and ate up clock time after that in posting its 12th straight home win.
Both teams crossed midfield twice in the second half and managed only a field goal apiece.
Last year Daniels went through the Mountaineers for 336 yards of offense in a 30-19 win, but West Virginia had a better plan for him this time.
Daniels ran 14 times for just 4 yards and completed 20 of 30 passes for 119 yards before being replaced late in the game. Daniels was sacked four times and his three interceptions gave him 10 this season, surpassing his total for all of 2009.
South Florida was successful in slowing down Noel Devine for the second straight year. Devine led the Mountaineers with 13 carries for 29 yards. His longest run was 13 yards.
Instead, the Mountaineers relied on Smith for an arsenal of mostly short, controlled passes. He was 24 of 31 for 219 yards.
West Virginia forged ahead with an unusually imbalanced approach, throwing on 23 of its 33 first-half plays.
Brad Starks had his fourth TD catch in two games, grabbing a 31-yarder with no defender near him in the first quarter for a 10-0 lead.
After that, there was little movement from either offense. Smith completed eight straight passes at one point but for little gain. The teams punted on seven straight possessions in the second quarter.
Robert Sands provided a spark for the Mountaineers just before halftime, stepping in front of a pass from Evan Landi and returning the interception 27 yards to the South Florida 7.
On the next play West Virginia executed a hook-and-lateral in tight quarters. Smith threw a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage to Sanders. He immediately flipped the ball behind him to Devine, who went around right end for the score and a 17-3 lead.
Keith Tandy caught a tipped pass early in the fourth quarter for his fourth interception in three games. Brantwon Bowser had his first career interception for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart earned his second win over the Bulls in three tries and the Mountaineers evened the all-time series at 3-3.