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PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Hogan's interception and fumble recovery led to touchdowns in the first half, Geno Smith threw two scoring passes to Tavon Austin after halftime and West Virginia beat Backyard Brawl rival Pittsburgh for the second straight season, winning 35-10 on Friday.
Pittsburgh (6-5, 4-2 in Big East) had a clear path to the conference title and an automatic BCS bowl bid, only to fumble it away with four turnovers that repeatedly gave West Virginia's offense excellent field position.
The Mountaineers (8-3, 4-2) were seemingly out of BCS contention following successive losses to Syracuse and Connecticut. Now, they can play in a major bowl if they beat Rutgers on Dec. 4 and Connecticut (6-4, 3-2) loses to Cincinnati (4-6, 2-3) on Saturday or USF (6-4, 3-3), also on Dec. 4.
UConn, which was rooting for Pitt to lose, winds up with the automatic bid if it wins out because it owns the tiebreaker over West Virginia and Pitt, even if multiple teams tie for the conference title.
West Virginia scored quickly in each half, with Smith finding Austin behind Panthers cornerback Antwaun Reed for a 71-yard scoring pass play with 1:37 gone in the third quarter, making it 21-7.
The Mountaineers scored three touchdowns in the second half, two more than they had after halftime in their first five conference games combined.
Last season, West Virginia put Pitt out of the Top 10 by beating the Panthers 19-16 on a last-second Tyler Bitancurt field goal. This time, the Mountaineers likely put the Panthers out of a major bowl.
Because of the turnovers, Pitt never developed any offensive consistency or rhythm despite holding a 111-7 edge in total yardage late in the first quarter and a 205-75 advantage at halftime.
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Devin Street with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter to tie it at 7. Pitt then forced West Virginia to punt, but Dion Lewis fumbled during a 9-yard reception and Terence Garvin recovered. Lewis ended with 34 yards rushing after having 155 against West Virginia last season.
West Virginia didn't turn that mistake into any points, but Hogan later recovered a Ray Graham fumble and Smith took advantage by finding Noel Devine for 48 yards on a swing pass. Smith found Will Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown pass on the next play, putting the Mountaineers up 14-7 with 4:33 left in the second quarter.
Smith then threw his two scoring passes to Austin in the third quarter, the second coming with 1:29 left to make it 28-10.
Pitt then lost any chance it had of getting back in it when a snap sailed over Sunseri's head on a second-and-6 play from the West Virginia 9. The Mountaineers recovered.