No. 23 West Virginia did a number of things wrong Saturday, but did one thing right. A 35-14 victory against Rutgers clinched a share of the Big East title and kept alive the opportunity for a Bowl Championship Series game.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Connecticut did what was required of itself as well with a 19-16 victory against South Florida Saturday night. That provided a share of the Big East, but also the conference's BCS bid.
The Huskies (8-4, 5-2 Big East) are likely headed to the Fiesta Bowl while WVU (9-3, 5-2) is expected to be asked to play in the Dec. 28 Champs Sports Bowl, in Orlando, Fla., with possibly North Carolina State (8-4) or Maryland (8-4) as the opponent.
WVU beat the Terrapins, 31-14, Sept. 19, and hasn't played the Wolfpack since 1979. The Mountaineers lead that all-time series 5-4 and are up on the Terrapins 24-21-2.
Pitt (7-5, 5-2) put its hands on the conference crown with a 28-10 victory at snowy Cincinnati Saturday. UConn owned the tie-breakers with head-to-head victories against WVU and Pitt.
The Mountaineers committed three turnovers inside the Rutgers 15-yard line and had another red zone possession blow up with a sack and a blocked field goal, but still won for the 16th time in a row in the series. The Scarlet Knights have also lost 16 in a row in Morgantown, the latest before a crowd of just 48,386 at Mountaineer Field.
A beaming Bill Stewart began his postgame press conference by displaying a blue T-shirt branding his third West Virginia team as the 2010 Big East champion.
"Not many people thought that shirt right there would have been handed out today," he said.
Consecutive losses in late October at home against Syracuse and at UConn left WVU at 1-2 in the conference. The team hasn't lost since with an offense averaging 31 points and 390.8 yard per game. The defense allowed 10 points three times and would have been below that if not for a late touchdown against Rutgers.