| SoFloBulls.com by Matthew Manuri |
In this edition of Throwback Thursday we look back as WVU closes out the season with three close wins against Big East rivals culminating with Stedman Bailey’s season saving catch against South Florida.
Most WVU fans are used to seeing WVU fall victim to unlikely occurrences that keep WVU from achieving greatness. During the 2011 season WVU seemed to flip the script coming up with the big plays and close wins that eventually led them to a historic Orange Bowl victory.
After losing to Syracuse and Louisville earlier in the season WVU found itself with a win loss record of 6-3 and its Big East championship hopes quickly fading. WVU needed to win out and have things fall their way in order to win the Big East. In true WVU fashion its last three regular season games were as dramatic as possible. What was not so characteristic was WVU ended up on right side of all three of those games (winning all three by a combined 7 points) with Stedman Bailey providing the final heroics to put WVU in the Orange Bowl.
First, WVU traveled to Ohio for a matchup against the Cincinnati Bearcats. After Cincinnati starting QB Zach Collaros was injured early it looked like WVU might roll.
Unfortunately, Munchie Legaux and the Bearcats had other ideas and the game was not decided until WVU’s special teams saved the day blocking a potential game tying field goal as time expired.
After a bye week WVU hosted Pitt in the last Backyard Brawl. Like the Cincinnati game this game went to the wire with WVU winning in dramatic fashion sacking Pitt’s quarterback four times on the final drive to preserve a one point win and bragging rights in the Brawl for at least the near future.
Going into their last game of the regular season WVU needed a win against South Florida in order to put them in a position to get a BCS berth. If there was one Big East team that gave WVU fits it was the Bulls. South Florida had frequently played the part of spoiler during WVU’s Big East days upsetting the Mountaineers in 2006, 2007 and 2009. If WVU wanted to earn an invitation to a BCS bowl game they needed to beat the Bulls and hope for a Cincinnati win over Connecticut. That scenario would create a three-way tie at the top of the Big East standings between Cincinnati, WVU and Louisville. WVU would win the tiebreaker as a result of their earlier win over Cincinnati (Sorry Butch!).
After a tight first half South Florida closed within 3 points early in the 3rd quarter, but Tavon Austin returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to put WVU up by 10.
Entering the fourth quarter the game had yet to see an offensive touchdown and the score stood at 20-13 for the good guys, but with 10 minutes to go in the game South Florida reeled of 14 points in less than a minute. First quarterback B.J. Daniels scored on a short run and then a few seconds later Geno Smith threw a pick six and just like that the Bulls were up 7. On the next possession a costly penalty by South Florida kept a WVU drive alive, and with 5 minutes left WVU responded and knotted the game up at 27 a piece on a short scamper by freshman running back Dustin Garrison. Continue Reading by Clicking Here
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