TAMPA, Fla. – Tavon Austin returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, Pat Miller scored on a 52-yard interception return and Tyler Bitancurt kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired, helping No. 22 West Virginia clinch a share of the Big East football championship with a 30-27 victory over South Florida on Thursday night.
The Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2) pulled even with Louisville in the conference standings and likely will receive the league’s automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series if Cincinnati beats Connecticut on Saturday to create a three-way tie for the title.
USF (5-7, 1-6) finished its season on a three-game losing streak and failed to qualify for a bowl bid for the first time in seven years.
Geno Smith set up Bitancurt’s third field goal of the night with a 26-yard completion to Stedman Bailey on fourth-and-10 from the USF 42. The West Virginia quarterback also led an 11-play, 78-yard drive that Dustin Garrison finished with a 5-yard TD run to make it 20-all with just more than 5 minutes to go.
The Mountaineers, who fell behind 27-20 when JaQuez Jenkins returned an interception 24 yards for USF’s last touchdown, began the winning drive from their 26 after Najee Goode forced a fumble by Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels.