(Thursday, October 14th)
Final Score: (25) West Virginia 20, South Florida 6
Morgantown, WV (Sports Network) - Geno Smith outplayed counterpart B.J. Daniels, throwing for 219 yards and two touchdowns, as No. 25 West Virginia downed South Florida, 20-6, in Big East action.
Smith was efficient, completing 24-of-31 passes, while Daniels tossed three interceptions and threw for just 119 yards before being benched late in the fourth.
West Virginia (5-1, 1-0 Big East) won despite getting just 56 rushing yards on 23 carries from the combination of Noel Devine and Ryan Clarke.
The Bulls (3-3, 0-2) were paced on the ground by Moise Plancher's 63 yards. Daniels, usually effective on his feet, ran for just four yards on 14 carries. Dontavia Brown hauled in 11 of Daniels' 20 completions for 98 yards in defeat.
"I am proud of the way we are playing right now as a defensive team," said Bulls head coach Skip Holtz. "The thing right now as a football team that we need on offense right now is a big play."
An 11-play 70-yard march started the home-standing Mountaineers off on the right foot, specifically the foot of kicker Tyler Bitancurt, who drilled a 27- yard boot for the game's first points four minutes, 40 seconds into the game.
Later in the period, Smith completed a nine-play, 80-yard march with a deft 31-yard toss to Brad Starks for a 10-0 edge with just over two minutes remaining in the first period.
The Bulls finally got on the scoreboard with Maikon Bonani's 36-yard field goal, but the Mountaineers answered and increased their edge to two scores thanks to a trick play near the conclusion of the first half. A behind-the- line pass to Jock Sanders started the play, then he flipped the ball to Devine, who on a dead sprint raced 11 yards for the score.
"Last time I called one of those plays it was a double pass and you'd think I was killing people at the grocery store," said Mountaineers head coach Bill Stewart. "It was a great call and after the timeout we were able to work the clock."
The two teams exchanged third-period field goals for the final margin. Bonani was successful from 47 yards away, while Bitancurt connected from 24 yards out. Yet, the big story of the second half was the ineffectiveness of Daniels and the South Florida offense.
The Bulls posted a season-low in total yards (202) and saw their quarterback struggle over a sensational showing versus the Mountaineers a year earlier. Daniels shredded the WVU defense for 336 total yards in a 30-19 victory, but this time around he was sacked four times and ran his season interception total to 10, surpassing his total from last season.
Devine's longest run was just 13 yards and he averaged a pedestrian 2.2 yards per carry...Starks has four touchdown catches in the last two games...Robert Sands' 27-yard interception return late in the second quarter set up the hook- and-ladder scoring play...West Virginia's Keith Tandy has four interceptions in his last three games...The all-time series is even at 3-3.
10/15 00:06:17 ET