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Rutgers ultimately falls short and Louisville is beneficiary

December 03, 2006|From the Associated Press

Given extra chances on a championship stage, Rutgers couldn't finish the job.

No. 15 West Virginia knocked down Mike Teel's two-point conversion pass in the end zone to preserve the Mountaineers' 41-39 triple-overtime win over No. 13 Rutgers on Saturday night at Morgantown, W.Va., denying the Scarlet Knights their first Bowl Championship Series berth and handing Louisville the Big East's automatic bid as conference champion.

"There's a lot of hurt in there," Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano said. "There are a lot of sad young men. They have invested a lot in this season and in this week and in this game. Emotionally and physically, it's just sad."

Earlier Saturday, No. 6 Louisville put itself into position to snare the BCS bid when it rolled to a 48-17 victory over Connecticut at Louisville, Ky.

The loss by Rutgers (10-2, 5-2) gives Louisville (11-1, 6-1) a likely invitation to the Orange Bowl against Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest on Jan. 2.

"We went out on the field and played as well as we could," Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino said. "We certainly feel like we deserve to be there."

Jarrett Brown ran for one touchdown and threw the go-ahead score in overtime to help West Virginia (10-2, 5-2) cap its second straight 10-win season. Brown started for Pat White, who sat out the game because of a sore ankle.

The ending was a peculiar finish to an improbable regular season for Rutgers. A loser for so long, the Scarlet Knights started 9-0 before being upset at Cincinnati, then rebounded by beating Syracuse to set the stage for what would have been a historic win against West Virginia.

But although Rutgers produced its best season since going 11-0 in 1976, it wasn't enough to get the BCS berth the Scarlet Knights were hoping for.

Rutgers now could have to settle for the Texas Bowl. The Scarlet Knights dropped to 0-15 in Morgantown, dating to 1920.

"They have nothing to be ashamed of," Schiano said. "They played their hearts out."

West Virginia, which began the season with national championship aspirations, is headed to the Gator Bowl or the Sun Bowl. Gator officials notified the Big 12 that they would wait until today to choose a team from the Big East or the Big 12. The Sun Bowl has the next choice after the Gator.

A month ago, the Mountaineers were third in the BCS standings before a Nov. 2 loss to Louisville dashed their national title hopes, then their BCS chances were lost with a shocking loss at home to South Florida.

In Louisville's victory Saturday, quarterback Brian Brohm threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns to put the Cardinals in line for their first BCS berth.

"The resilience of this team is what makes it so great," said Brohm, who completed 20 of 28 passes. "We were able to put whatever it is behind us and move on."

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