Oct 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; South Florida Bulls running back Brian Battie (21) runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Underwhelming seasons collide when Tulsa faces USF

South Florida and host Tulsa will chase down a rare victory when the teams meet Friday night.

The two American Athletic Conference programs find themselves at the bottom of the standings, with the Bulls owning the cellar due to an eight-game skid. Tulsa is standing right outside the door after dropping three straight.

USF (1-9, 0-6) earned its only win when it defeated FCS Howard 42-20 on Sept. 10 in Week 2. The campaign’s low point occurred Nov. 6 when the Bulls fired head coach Jeff Scott after a 54-28 road loss to Temple.

Interim head coach Daniel Da Prato stepped in Saturday against SMU. The Bulls played better at times, forging a 17-17 tie at halftime before succumbing in a 41-23 setback on their home field.

“Obviously, a difficult week for our young men and for our department. We were able to fight through that for the week and we came out and I’m proud of our kids and their effort,” Da Prato said. “But at the end of the day you play this game to win.”

Quarterback Katravis Marsh was stretchered off the field in the fourth quarter but was “in good spirits, with movement in his extremities,” according to Da Prato.

Running back Brian Battie recorded his third straight 100-yard game, with 145 on the ground, and is within 127 yards of the school’s 10th 1,000-yard rushing season.

In its home finale Friday, ninth-place Tulsa (3-7, 1-5) will try to avoid slipping into last place by improving on offense. Behind quarterbacks Davis Brin and Braylon Braxton, the Golden Hurricane offense generated just 207 yards in Saturday’s 26-10 loss to Memphis. The pair combined to go 17 of 37 for 176 passing yards.

Through its first three games, Tulsa’s offense topped FBS schools with over 43 points per game and 413 passing yards per game, but it has regressed with Brin’s injuries and Braxton’s inconsistency.

“Early in the season, I thought we were hitting on all cylinders and things were coming together,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “Where I thought this offense was going to be able to go is in a totally different end of the spectrum than where we are right now.”

USF holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series, but Tulsa has won the past two meetings — 32-31 last season in Tampa and 42-13 in 2020 at Tulsa.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA;South Florida Bulls head coach Jeff Scott prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida fires coach Jeff Scott

South Florida, in the midst of a 1-8 season, fired head football coach Jeff Scott on Sunday.

Special teams coordinator Daniel Da Prato was named interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“When Jeff came to Tampa in December of 2019, we had high expectations for where he could take our football program,” athletic director Michael Kelly said in a statement. “While he did so many things right, including rebuilding our culture, pushing forward our Indoor Performance Facility, and engaging our community, the on-the-field results fell well below our standards. He is a tremendous person and class individual and we wish him, Sara, Savannah and Hunter all the best in the future.”

The Bulls lost their seventh straight game Saturday when host Temple pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 54-28 win. South Florida is 0-5 against American Athletic Conference opponents and won its only game against Howard, an FCS opponent.

Scott was hired ahead of the 2020 season after serving as Clemson’s wide receivers coach, run game coordinator and co-offensive coordinator between 2008 and 2019. He originally signed a five-year deal and also inked a two-year extension following the 2021 season.

But South Florida went just 4-26 under Scott, including a paltry 1-19 in conference.

“I would like to thank our players, coaches and staff members for all their hard work during my time as the head coach at USF,” Scott said in a statement. “I especially want to thank USF President Rhea Law and Vice President/Director of Athletics Michael Kelly for giving me the incredible opportunity to lead the football program the last three years. I will miss this team and will do anything in my power to help them in the future. I am disappointed that our hard work didn’t translate to more success on the field, but I am confident that we have set a new foundation. I know the future of USF football is bright and my family and I will always remember our time at USF as a very special chapter in our lives.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Temple Owls quarterback E.J. Warner (13) throws an interception in overtime against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Temple hosts USF as both teams search for first AAC win

Temple and South Florida are the only teams yet to win a game in American Athletic Conference play this season.

Off to 0-4 starts in league play, Temple and USF are hoping to emerge with the elusive AAC victory when the teams convene Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Temple (2-6, 0-4 AAC) has dropped conference games to Memphis, Central Florida, Tulsa and Navy. The Owls absorbed a 70-13 loss to UCF on Oct. 13, took an early 10-point lead in a 27-16 loss at Tulsa and succumbed in overtime during last week’s 27-20 loss to Navy.

Amad Anderson Jr. caught a 20-yard touchdown for the Owls and finished with eight receptions for 114 yards. E.J. Warner, the son of Kurt Warner, completed 24 of 48 passes for 268 yards and was intercepted twice.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign came from the defense’s showing against Navy’s triple-option. The Owls conceded 224 yards from scrimmage — well below Navy’s 370 yards per game entering last week.

“We prepared very well for the triple-option,” Temple linebacker Jordan Magee said. “We just didn’t get the outcome.”

USF (1-7, 0-4) enters Saturday allowing a league-worst 38.1 points per game and a league-worst 488.4 yards per contest. The Bulls are also on a six-game losing streak since getting their only win over Howard on Sept. 10.

Since entering league play, USF has losses to East Carolina, Cincinnati, Tulane and Houston. After allowing three touchdowns in a span of 6:30 in the second half in its 45-31 loss to Tulane, the Bulls allowed 490 yards in last week’s 42-27 loss at Houston.

Katravis Marsh started at quarterback for the first time for the Bulls and completed 24 of 34 passes for a touchdown and 275 yards. He is expected to start again at Temple after starter Gerry Bohannon suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Oct. 15.

“Most improvement in the quarterback position is typically from the first game as a starter to that second game so I expect to see him build off of this performance and continue to improve next week and as we move forward,” USF coach Jeff Scott said.

Temple has won five of eight all-time meetings, though USF recorded a 34-14 home win last season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA;  Houston Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Houston aiming for another win against struggling USF

Houston needs a victory to stay in the American Athletic Conference race while visiting South Florida is looking for something positive as the two sides head into a Saturday afternoon meeting.

The Cougars (4-3, 2-1 AAC) trail Tulane and Cincinnati in the standings and are currently tied with UCF for third place. Their lone league loss was to Tulane, and they do not play either Cincinnati or UCF in the regular season.

Houston coach Dana Holgorsen describes his team’s mental outlook as “disappointed” but not “down.”

“We’ve been in some bad spots because of some close losses,” Holgorsen said. “But I never felt like we lost the team or the pulse wasn’t there or the work ethic wasn’t there, the practices weren’t there. I haven’t felt that.”

Clayton Tune has been one of the more productive passers in the league with an average of just over 261 yards a game, and Nathaniel Dell is one of the top receivers with 51 receptions for 627 yards and eight touchdown catches, which is tied for the most in the AAC.

Holgorsen, however, is concerned with his team’s kickoffs. He called both the kicks and the coverage “sporadic” and noted that USF’s Brian Battie had two 100-yard kickoff returns in last year’s meeting. Battie is back and joined by Jimmy Horn Jr., who has an 89-yard touchdown return this season.

“Two dudes back there that are dangerous,” Holgerson said.

The Bulls (1-6, 0-3) are coming off an open date following a 45-31 setback to Tulane and will be without starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon Jr. the rest of the season after his shoulder surgery. Veteran Katravis Marsh (11-of-26 passing, 198 yards) will get the start.

Coach Jeff Scott is challenging his Bulls to finish strong.

“The first seven games are part of our story for this season,” Scott said. “But it doesn’t have to be ‘the’ story of our season if we finish the right way.”

Houston has won six straight in the all-time series.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA;  Tulane Green Wave quarterback Kai Horton (12) looks to pass the ball during the first quarter against the Tulane Green Wave at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane takes elite defense to South Florida

Tulane is one victory away from becoming bowl eligible.

South Florida isn’t likely to go bowling, but it is coming off one of its best performances of the season as it prepares to host the Green Wave in an American Athletic Conference game Saturday in Tampa.

Tulane (5-1, 2-0) had a school-record streak of three straight bowl appearances snapped when it plummeted to a 2-10 record last season. But it has bounced back strong.

The Green Wave defense is ranked No. 4 nationally against the pass (151.0 yards per game), No. 7 in scoring (13.3 points per game) and No. 15 in total yards (286.2).

“We’re doing a good job of keeping things in front of us,” head coach Willie Fritz said. “We’re doing a good job tackling and playing with leverage.”

Tulane opened eyes last month with a 14-10 road victory against Kansas State, which is now ranked No. 17. Now the Green Wave are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll.

“I think we’re the last team that should be looking ahead,” Fritz said. “I remember last year.”

The Bulls (1-5, 0-2) already have played three ranked teams. Last week they led then-No. 24 Cincinnati in the fourth quarter before falling 28-24 on the road.

It was similar to a 31-28 loss at then No. 18 Florida on Sept. 17, which started USF’s current four-game losing streak.

“We’ve shown that we can play at a very high level against two good teams on the road,” Bulls coach Jeff Scott said. “We’ve had to play at a high level each and every week.”

USF did not respond well to the loss to Florida, losing 41-3 at Louisville the next week.

“We’ve got to respond a lot better,” Scott said. “We’ve got to learn from what happened between Florida and Louisville and make sure that doesn’t happen between Cincinnati and Tulane.”

The Bulls are playing at home for the first time since Sept. 10, when they defeated Howard 42-20. Their Oct. 1 game against East Carolina was moved to Boca Raton because of Hurricane Ian.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) reacts after an incomplete pass by the Indiana Hoosiers in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Led by its defense, No. 24 Cincinnati meets USF

No. 24 Cincinnati will continue to rely on its aggressive defense, which leads the country in several categories, when it hosts South Florida for its homecoming game Saturday.

The Bearcats (4-1, 1-0 AAC) have 23 sacks, 50 tackles for loss and four defensive touchdowns this season, more than any other Football Bowl Subdivision program in each category.

Cincinnati can thank a stellar performance against Tulsa last week, in which the Bearcats recorded 11 sacks to open conference play with a 31-21 road victory.

That tied the AAC record for most sacks in a game. No FBS team has eclipsed 11 sacks in a contest since 2019.

“I know people want to talk about sacks and things like that,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said, “but it all comes down to our ability to control the line of scrimmage, stop the run game and put ourselves in a lot better situation than we were in the last two years, to be honest with you.”

What’s more impressive is that the Bearcats weren’t all-out blitzing on every play. They dominated the line while sometimes sending just three or four rushers.

“I believe that gives everybody a lot of freedom and comfortability, especially with the linebackers,” said defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, who led the attack against Tulsa with 2 1/2 sacks as part of 3 1/2 TFLs. “With them knowing that we’re eating up blocks and such like that and consistently bringing pressure, that puts an ease on the guys in the back end who’ve got to run 40, 50, 60 yards every play.”

Running back Corey Kiner had his best game since transferring from LSU. He ran for a season-high 106 yards on 12 carries against Tulsa and scored a touchdown for the fifth straight game.

Meanwhile, the Bulls (1-4, 0-1) have only one win this season, against FCS opponent Howard in Week 2. They’ve lost to then-No. 25 BYU, then-No. 18 Florida (by three), Louisville and East Carolina (last week).

South Florida coach Jeff Scott insisted his team is better than its record says.

“We could’ve played some of the teams that other teams played in the nonconference, and we would have the exact same team we have right now, and we would be 3-2,” Scott said Tuesday. “But the message would be that we’re so much better, we turned the corner and here we go, we’re ready to go.”

The Bulls lost last week’s AAC opener to East Carolina 48-28 in a game that was moved from Tampa to Boca Raton, Fla., due to Hurricane Ian. South Florida trailed 41-7 at halftime, but Scott wanted to focus on his team’s attempts to make the game close.

“We gave up four touchdowns versus man coverage,” he said. … “If we can defend one of those better than we did, that’s one less touchdown they have, so that’s one play.

“And then let’s take the two series that we have inside the 5-yard line. There in the first half, first-and-goal at the 5, Gerry (Bohanon) is going in to score, the guy comes around, knocks the ball out, we fumble it. We get no points there.

“The last drive offensively, we’re going down to score, get five plays inside the 5, we think we get over the pylon, we don’t — we don’t score there. Well, that’s 14 points. So take away seven of theirs and add 14 of ours, and all of a sudden we’re leading the game by one with eight minutes to go.”

Cincinnati has won the past four meetings between the former Big East foes and leads the all-time series 12-7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) runs the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

USF, ECU look to rebound from tough losses

South Florida enters unfamiliar territory for its American Athletic Conference opener against visiting East Carolina on Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla.

The game was scheduled to be played in Tampa on the same day, but due to the approach of Hurricane Ian, South Florida moved the game to FAU’s football stadium and changed the kickoff time to 2:30 p.m. ET.

Making matters more difficult for the Bulls (1-3, 0-0 AAC) is that they’re still picking up the pieces from a 41-3 thrashing at the hands of Louisville last week.

Baylor transfer quarterback Gerry Bohanon had his worst outing of the season, going 9 for 17 for 62 yards and two interceptions. In four games with the Bulls, Bohanon has thrown for 569 yards and six picks without a touchdown.

Jeff Scott removed Bohanon from the game with the Bulls behind 31-0 in the third quarter, a benching the coach said was partly about Bohanon’s health.

“I didn’t want to lose our starting quarterback before we played our first conference game,” Scott said. “He was banged up coming out of the Florida game and wasn’t able to throw as much during the week in practice, but we felt like he could go. Once it got to that point, you’ve got to think about your entire season.”

The Bulls take on East Carolina (2-2, 0-1) as it comes off a disappointing double-overtime loss in its AAC opener.

The Pirates took Navy to overtime after a back-and-forth fourth quarter. East Carolina could not score in the second overtime as it fell 23-20 at home.

East Carolina missed a game-tying extra point to lose to then-No. 13 NC State by one point in the season opener, then beat Old Dominion and FCS Campbell.

“They’re sitting here two plays from being 4-0. It’s tough,” ECU coach Mike Houston said. “I’m proud of our kids. I’m proud of our leadership, because they’ve been the ones that have brought us here and kind of given us these opportunities and they continue to lead with a lot of maturity and determination.”

The Pirates rank fourth in the AAC in scoring defense (18.8 ppg), while the offense is led by running back Keaton Mitchell and veteran quarterback Holton Ahlers. Mitchell’s 386 rushing yards rank second in the conference, and Ahlers has thrown for 1,067 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

South Florida owns the all-time series lead 9-3, but East Carolina has won the past two meetings.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  South Florida Bulls receiver Yusuf Terry (9) catches a pass under the pressure of Louisville Cardinals defensive back Kei'Trel Clark (13) during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Cunningham’s dual attack leads Louisville past USF

Malik Cunningham rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 186 yards and a score as Louisville dominated South Florida 41-3 Saturday afternoon in Louisville, Ky.

The Cardinals (2-2) amassed 542 yards in total offense with 283 rushing while holding the Bulls (1-3) to 158 in total yardage and a meager 48 on the ground. That’s the lowest rushing total for an opponent since Louisville held Virginia to 35 yards last year.

Cunningham’s output moved the senior into a tie for second in program history in career touchdowns with 20 and into third place among Cardinal rushers with 3,014 yards. He is fifth in career passing yards with 8,629 yards.

The loss extended USF’s road losing streak to 14 games as its offense never got in gear. Gerry Bohanon Jr. was only 9-of-17 passing for 62 yards before turning game over to Katravis Marsh early in the third quarter. Marsh finished 4-of-11 for 48 yards in his first action of the season.

After punting on the opening series, the Cardinals scored touchdowns on their next four possessions with Cunningham scoring on rushes of 40, 35, and 8 yards and throwing a 26-yard pass to Jaelin Carter to take a 28-0 lead into the break.

Cunning had more rushing yards (106) than passing (100) in the first half as the Cardinals amassed 329 yards in total offense to just 84 for the Bulls.

South Florida managed 22 yards on the ground and had three turnovers, two on Bohanon’s fifth and sixth interceptions of the season, through the first half.

The Bulls foiled Louisville’s shutout bid on Spencer Shrader’s 37-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals responded with Tyler Evans’ 3-yard scoring run to make it 38-3 and James Turner added a second field goal to round out the scoring.

–Field Level Media

South Florida Bulls quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) tries to elude Florida Gators in the second half against the Bulls at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 17, 2022. Florida won 31-28 [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs Usf Bulls

USF, Louisville face off as both look to rebound

Two teams coming off disheartening losses and striving to get back to .500 will clash when South Florida visits Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

Critical mistakes by both teams in the final minute of their respective losses cost them last week. The Bulls (1-2) lost 31-28 at No. 20 Florida and the Cardinals (1-2) dropped a 35-31 decision at home to Florida State.

For USF, it was a case of errant center snaps deep in Florida territory on its final drive that proved costly. For Louisville, it was a late interception that ended its last possession near midfield.

“Obviously got to come back strong this week,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said at his weekly press briefing. “It’s still early in the season.”

The Bulls seemed to have things going well in Gainesville until the late mistakes.

“There’s about eight plays on offense, defense, and special teams combined that really were self-inflicted mistakes and kept us from finishing the game in the right way,” USF coach Jeff Scott said.

This will be the first meeting of the two teams since 2013 but the series has been competitive with Louisville holding a 6-5 advantage. It will feature two quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet as well as their arms.

The Bulls’ Gerry Bohanon rushed for 102 yards against the Gators last week and Louisville’s Malik Cunningham has rushed for a team-high 282 yards in three games. Scott likens Cunningham to former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who set the numerous school records Cunningham is chasing.

“Honestly, whenever I watch him play, I just see Lamar,” Scott said. “I feel like they’ve had the same quarterback for like the last eight or nine years.”

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne (7) rushes with the ball for a touchdown during the second half against the South Florida Bulls at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 17, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs South Florida Bulls

Trevor Etienne’s late TD vaults No. 18 Florida over USF

Trevor Etienne scored on a 3-yard run with just over five minutes left to cap a 28-yard drive following Tre’Vez Johnson’s interception and No. 18 Florida held on for a 31-28 win over visiting South Florida on Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla.

The Bulls (1-2) reached Florida’s 19-yard line in the final minute, but an errant snap on second down backed them up to the 33, and then a mishandled snap foiled Spencer Shrader’s 49-yard field-goal try that could have sent the game to overtime.

The Gators (2-1) saw an 11-point halftime lead wiped out when the Bulls’ Gerry Bohanon and Michel Dukes each scored a touchdown to put USF up 28-24 before Etienne’s score.

With sophomore Brian Battie rushing for a career-high 150 yards and Bohanon rushing for 102, the Bulls outgained the Gators 402-329 in total yardage and seemed to have their first win over a ranked foe since 2016 within reach.

But Bohanon’s second interception created a short field that the Gators cashed in on.

Florida’s Anthony Richardson threw for 112 yards and two picks.

Montrel Johnson Jr. led the Gators in rushing with 103 yards, 62 coming on a scoring dash in the second quarter.

Florida built its 24-13 halftime cushion on a pair of touchdowns in a 1-minute, 35-second span late in the second quarter. Nay’Quan Wright capped an 81-yard, penalty-aided drive with a 7-yard touchdown run with 4:45 left in the half and Jalen Kimber followed with a 39-yard interception return on USF’s ensuing possession for a 24-10 Florida lead.

USF closed out the half with Shrader’s 49-yard field goal.

The Bulls owned a statistical edge at the break thanks to running 40 plays to the Gators’ 23. That helped the visitors to a 272-204 advantage in total offense with a 216-129 cushion in rushing.

Battie finished the first half with 99 rushing yards while Bohanon had 69.

–Field Level Media