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S. FLORIDA 24, W. VIRGINIA 19

Bulls hit new peak

Mountaineers likely out of BCS picture

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Scratch unstoppable from the ways to describe No. 7 West Virginia's rush offense. South Florida saw to that yesterday.

The Bulls' defense scored on a fumble return and held the nation's second-best run and scoring offense to fewer than half of its typical output in a 24-19 win over the Mountaineers.

Matt Grothe ran for a touchdown and passed for another as South Florida (8-4, 4-3 Big East) handed West Virginia (9-2, 4-2) its first home loss in nine games. The loss could end the Mountaineers' chances for a BCS bid.

South Florida coach Jim Leavitt described it as a milestone in the school's 11-year football history.

"This probably was the biggest because we won here and it's so hard to win here," Leavitt said. "It's hard to beat these guys anywhere."

West Virginia fell into second place in the conference and its streak of three straight conference titles is in jeopardy. The Mountaineers are relegated to the role of spoiler: They finish the regular season at home next week against Rutgers, which can clinch a BCS berth with a win.

For a team averaging 41 points and 330 rushing yards, WVU looked listless.

"That's the worst our offense has played all year. Some of our best runs today, we're losing yards," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez.

Steve Slaton, the nation's No. 2 rusher, had his worst game as a starter. He saw his streak of six 100-yard games snapped, finishing with a season-low 43 yards, 115 below his average. The Mountaineers were limited to 132 yards rushing.

West Virginia was effective only through the air. Pat White threw two touchdown passes to Brandon Myles but the Mountaineers squandered several other scoring chances. They failed to reach the end zone four times inside the red zone, including their first three drives.

Grothe, a redshirt freshman, finished 21 of 29 for 270 yards. After West Virginia had closed to 14-12 in the third quarter, Grothe took the Bulls 70 yards on the next series, finding Ean Randolph with a 21-yard TD pass. He later converted a pair of third-down passes to keep alive a 14-play drive that resulted in a short field goal by Delbert Alvarado midway through the fourth and a 24-12 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, South Florida's George Selvie scooped up a White fumble at the 9 and scored the Bulls' first defensive touchdown of the season for a 7-6 lead.

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