Tampa, Fla. (CBS) The USF Bulls (5-7) played a hard-fought game against the West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3) last night, but came up short when Tyler Bitancurt hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired to get the 30-27 win at Raymond James Stadium.
A loss of this variety is nothing new for the Bulls, who have suffered numerous fourth quarter breakdowns when the game was on the line. West Virginia deserves credit for a win that could possibly secure them a BCS bid, but the loss for the Bulls can be solely blamed on self-inflicted mistakes.
Twenty Mountaineer points were generated from turnovers, 10 coming from atrocious special teams play and the other ten from turnovers by the offense. The costliest turnover of the night for South Florida rested on the shoulders of junior quarterback B.J Daniels. Tied 27-27 with 3 minutes left to play, Daniels made a run up the middle but was stripped by Najee Goode to give the Mountaineers the ball with a chance to win it.
And in a matter of minutes the bad guys were in USF territory prepared to put the game in the hands of their kicker. Geno Smith faced a 4th and 10 from the USF 42, but he took the snap and found Stedman Bailey for a 26 yard strike down to the USF 16-yard line.
Personnel issues have plagued the Bulls the entire season, and to add to the misery the Bulls were tagged with an illegal substitution penalty which cut five yards from Bitancurt’s eventual game-winning kick.
The first three quarters were back-and-forth with lead changes, costly turnovers and momentum shifts. The USF defense held the Bulls together with key red zone stops to limit the number of touchdowns for West Virginia. Tied 20-20 early in the fourth quarter, JaQuez Jenkins gave the Bulls their first lead of the night with a 28-yard interception return to make it 27-20.
But in 2011 Bulls fashion, the game ended in the final seconds to put an end to arguably the worst season in Bulls franchise history. Fans have been accustomed to seeing the Bulls play in a bowl game in December, but even that won’t be happening this year.
Skip Holtz and the Bulls have hit rock bottom after consecutive seasons of unattainable Big East championships and major disappointments. The Bulls and even the Big East Conference is a mystery heading into 2012, but for right now USF can only regroup and prepare for another shot next season.