And then finally WVU's offense made just one first down on its next possession before punting and the defense went back at it. This time the Mountaineers couldn't keep USF out of the end zone, but it took the Bulls 15 plays to get there.
All right, ready to count that all up? OK. From the 13:38 mark of the third quarter, after the Brown fumble that ended a drive that could have made the score 20-7, the WVU offense ran all of eight plays in the next 18 minutes and 49 seconds of game clock. Two of those were interceptions, including the one JaQuez Jenkins returned for a touchdown to give South Florida a 27-20 lead with 9:49 to play. The other six plays included two incomplete passes and gains of 0, 5, 7 and 12 yards.
Meanwhile, over that same 18:49 in which WVU ran eight plays, South Florida ran 41. The Mountaineers played commendably for being asked to go out so often, but by the end they were gassed. B.J. Lageman was playing on the defensive line. Mike Moro was in the secondary. These are not guys who have played much in the regular defense, but at that point they were better than their completely exhausted superiors on the depth chart.
And still WVU's defense survived. South Florida was held well below its season average of 436 yards. While the Bulls scored 27 points, 10 were directly due to turnovers.
Daniels, one of the most dangerous offensive players in the Big East, completed only 48 percent of his passes and was picked off for a touchdown and stripped to set up the deciding score. And it could have been even better had WVU not dropped some balls.
"If you look at it, we had opportunities to knock some balls out. We had some interceptions in our hands,'' Casteel said. "We make those plays and we're not talking about the same game.''
As for the exhaustion, it's not as if WVU now has to get right back at it, either.
"You've got time to rest later,'' Holgorsen said. "We'll take the next four days off and I'd assume everybody involved is going to do a lot of sleeping and a lot of resting and a lot of relaxation.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.