PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Down by three and faced with fourth and goal from the 1 on a miserable wet, snowy day, first-year West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen didn't hesitate.
The No. 25 Mountaineers put the ball and possibly their Big East title hopes in the hands of quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith didn't run the play as called, but the junior improvised well enough and made a headfirst dive into the end zone on a scamper around right end as West Virginia rallied for a 41-31 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.
"I just made a decision," Holgorsen said
He added that his defense played so well in the second half in shutting out Rutgers that he felt the unit would get the ball back if Smith had been stopped.
Smith threw two second-half touchdowns to help West Virginia post its 17th straight win over Rutgers in a rivalry that will end soon — maybe next year if the Mountaineers can engineer their exit to the Big 12 that fast.
"It was just me and the safety and I had to beat him to the goal line," Smith said of his run.
Tavon Austin had eight catches for 67 yards and scored on an 80-yard run for West Virginia.
"Credit goes to West Virginia. They found a way to get it done. We didn't," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said.
The game turned on a failed trick play in the fourth. Up 31-28, the Scarlet Knights faked a 28-yard field goal but WVU broke up a pass from holder Pat Kivlehan to receiver Brandon Coleman.
WVU took the lead with an 89-yard drive on the next series, capped by Smith's TD run.
LOUISVILLE 27, SYRACUSE 10: Anthony Conner's surprise visit to the locker room, just days after surgery to stabilize a broken neck he suffered last week, fired up the host Cardinals and that emotional spark was followed by a dominating defensive performance. "They're playing for AC now," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "That's what it's all about." Freshman Teddy Bridgewater passed for two touchdowns and the Cardinals held the Orange to a season-low 246 yards.