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Contest shaping up as a nail-biter

December 1, 2011
By Mickey Furfari

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's football game at South Florida shapes up as another nail-biter in Thursday night's regular-season finale in Tampa.

"We just have to go down there and take care of business, " WVU quarterback Gen Smith said. "We can't focus on anything but this game."

The 22nd-ranked Mountaineers need only to defeat the Bulls to earn at least a share of the conference championship.

That won't be easy, according to the oddsmakers. West Virginia was listed as a 1 1/2 point favorite Wednesday by the USA Today.

The Bulls, tied for seventh place in the BIG EAST, needs to win to become bowl-eligible. So it is expected to be sky-high.

"The Bulls will be electrified," said Smith, a junior who leads the BIG EAST is passing, total offense and passing efficiency.

But he's happy that the Mountaineers can muster a balanced attack. They were minus-two rushing in the first half of last week's 21-20 win against old rival Pitt at home but finished with 115.

Smith has completed 291 of 448 passes for 3,741 yards and 25 touchdowns.

USF quarterback B. J. Daniels is the conference's second most productive passer. He has 194 completions in 321 attempts for 2,378 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Daniels is recovering from a two-week-old shoulder injury. If he is unable to go, backup Bobby Eveld would get the call.

South Florida shows 434.3 yards per game in total offense and WVU 468.3 per game. The breakdown: rushing USF 184.3, WVU 116.9 and passing 250.0 to 351.4.

Defensively, the teams are giving up 350.2 yards to 335.2 per game.

Junior Darrell Scott is the Bulls' leading rusher with 722 yards and five scores on 139 carries in 10 games. Quarterback Daniels is next with 578 yards on 122 keeper plays.

Freshman Dustin Garrison leads WVU in rushing with 665 yards on 120 rushes. He has scored five touchdowns.

Julian Miller, WVU's outstanding senior defensive lineman, recalled that the Mountaineers lost to South Florida down there when he was a freshman.

"We have to contain their quarterback and execute on both sides of the ball," said Miller, who was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week for the Pitt victory.

West Virginia not only must defeat USF but also hope that Cincinnati beats Connecticut at home on Saturday.

"But we can't worry about that or any other game except the one we have on Thursday night," Geno Smith said. "I think that will be one of the toughest we've had all season.

"I think that South Florida could play its best game against us. We'll take their best shot."



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