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

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

Sep 10, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) throws the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Florida tries for bounce-back win over USF

No. 18 Florida will seek redemption while unranked South Florida will try for its first victory over a Power 5 opponent in four years when the two Sunshine State neighbors clash Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators (1-1) opened with a comeback win over then-No. 7 Utah but fell flat against No. 20 Kentucky last week, going scoreless in the second half and managing only 279 yards in total offense in a 26-16 loss.

Anthony Richardson, the hero of the win over the Utes when he rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 168 yards, struggled against the Wildcats in what was the sophomore’s fourth career start. He completed 14 of 35 passes for 143 yards and rushed for only 4 yards. He also threw two interceptions, leading to 13 points for Kentucky.

“It’s part of being a young player,” first-year Florida coach Billy Napier said. “It’s part of being a guy who’s not very experienced. That’s reality here. Anthony’s a young player. He’s getting his first opportunity to be the guy. I just think this is part of the story. This is part of his growth.

“And he’ll use that. This guy’s a competitor. He’s motivated, and I think he’s going to take full advantage of the experience he’s had, both good and bad so far.”

Third-year coach USF Jeff Scott picked up his fourth win as coach of the Bulls (1-1 this season) with last week’s 42-20 thumping of Howard, their third in that span over an FCS foe (The Citadel, Florida A&M).

The Bulls’ only win over an FBS opponent was last year against Temple. USF hasn’t beaten a Power 5 team since a 25-19 win over Illinois on Sept. 15, 2018.

The Bulls’ running game was the big factor against Howard. USF rushed for 205 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Brian Battle posted the third 100-yard rushing game of his career with 105 yards on seven carries as the Bulls broke the game open with four second-half touchdowns after leading 14-7 at the break.

Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon added 219 yards in completing 17 of 28 passes — seven to Xavier Weaver for 57 yards.

Florida will be the second Top 25 opponent for the Bulls in the first three weeks of the season. The Bulls lost their opener 50-21 to then-No. 25 BYU.

“I would say that after we finished the BYU game, we were not ready to beat a Top 25 team,” Frost said. “That was two weeks ago. That’s the exciting part about football. Each week is a new week and you get new opportunities to grow. We’ll find out after Week 3 if we played well enough. to do that.”

The game will be the Gators’ third in a row at home to start the season before the team opens Southeastern Conference play at Tennessee on Sept. 24.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; General view of the jumbotron showing advising of a weather delay of the game between the South Florida Bulls and the Brigham Young Cougars at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 BYU blows past South Florida 50-21

Jaren Hall threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 25 BYU to a 50-21 victory over South Florida in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday.

Christopher Brooks ran for 135 yards and a touchdown in his debut for the Cougars. Puka Nacua added 98 yards from scrimmage and two rushing touchdowns for BYU before leaving with a sprained ankle late in the first quarter.

BYU (1-0) notched its second-ever win in the state of Florida after totaling 575 yards and averaging 8.3 yards per play. The Cougars previously defeated UCF in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl.

Gerry Bohanon threw for 172 yards and an interception in his South Florida debut. The Bulls (0-1) never recovered after giving up 38 unanswered points in the first half.

A delay prompted by lightning and rain pushed the kickoff back 2 1/2 hours. That didn’t stop BYU from charging out of the gates on both sides of the ball. The Cougars averaged 8.6 yards per play in the first half and racked up 337 total yards by halftime.

Nacua raced 75 yards on a jet sweep on the game’s first play from scrimmage to give BYU a 7-0 lead. He ran for a 5-yard score on an end around to extend the lead on the Cougars’ next series. Then, Max Tooley returned an interception 33 yards to extend BYU’s lead to 21-0 midway through the first quarter.

The Cougars scored their fourth touchdown when Hall tossed a 21-yard pass to Keanu Hill with four minutes left in the first quarter.

Hall’s second touchdown pass — a 13-yarder to Dallin Holker — and a 39-yard field goal from Jake Oldroyd helped BYU carve out a 38-0 lead with 2:11 left before halftime.

USF got on the board with 14 seconds left in the first half on Jaren Mangham’s 1-yard run. The Bulls cut their deficit to 38-14 when Jimmy Horn Jr. returned the opening second-half kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.

BYU didn’t let it get any closer. After getting a safety on a fumbled snap, Brooks broke free for a 52-yard scoring run to put the Cougars up 47-14 with 5:32 left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) throws a pass against the Mississippi Rebels in the third quarter of the 2022 Sugar Bowl at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Former Baylor starting QB Gerry Bohanon transfers to USF

Ex-Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon announced Sunday that he will transfer to South Florida for his senior season.

Bohanon will compete with current starter Timmy McClain for the Bulls’ starting QB job.

Bohanon completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns with seven interceptions last season for Baylor (12-2). He also ran for 323 yards and nine TDs on 76 carries in his lone season as a starter. The 12 wins for Baylor are a team single-season high.

Bohanon, however, entered the transfer portal this spring after losing his starting job to sophomore Blake Shapen.

McClain completed 55.3 percent of his passes for 1,888 yards and five touchdowns for South Florida (2-10) last year. He threw seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Timmy McClain (9) looks to pass in the second quarter against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida’s AAC losing streak looms large against Tulsa

Tulsa will be looking to remain in the conference title hunt while South Florida will just be seeking a win period when the two teams meet in an American Athletic Conference clash Saturday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.

The Golden Hurricane (2-4, 1-1 AAC) have won two of their last three outings after holding on for a 35-29 win over Memphis last week while the Bulls (1-4, 0-1) are coming off an open date with only a win over Florida A&M, an FCS foe, on the positive side of their ledger.

The Bulls have not won a league game since Nov. 26, 2019, when they beat East Carolina 45-20. Their conference losing streak reached 12 games with their 41-17 loss to SMU in their last outing.

Second-year coach Jeff Scott sees the open date as a chance to refocus the season.

“Our season is not going to be determined by our first five games,” he said. “It’s really going to be determined by our last seven games.”

Despite the record, Scott sees some positives in the Bulls’ early play. They outscored Florida 17-7 in the second half of a 42-20 loss to the Gators, got a 28-6 gap down to one score in a 35-27 loss at BYU, and were within 10 points late in an eventual 41-17 loss to SMU.

“We showed in two quarters in a couple of these games what we’re capable of,” Scott said, “but we’ve got to be a lot more consistent.”

True freshman Tim McClain (54 of 92 passing for 781 yards) will be making his fourth consecutive start at quarterback against a veteran Tulsa defense that starts four graduates along with five seniors and two juniors.

The Hurricane also have a two-prong rushing attack behind Shamari Brooks (416 yards) and Anthony Watkins (282).

Tulsa has an open date after this but then takes on Navy and league leader Cincinnati its next two games.

“It’s a difficult week and we don’t want to be thinking ahead,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “I don’t think we can afford to do that at all.”

–Field Level Media

SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) lets go of a pass during Saturday's game against ACU at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas on Sept. 4, 2021. Mordecai threw an SMU-record seven touchdowns as the Mustangs won 56-9.

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SMU’s explosive offense takes aim at USF in AAC opener

SMU junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai leads the nation this season with 20 passing touchdowns, a statistic in line with the pass-happy offensive philosophy of Mustangs coach Sonny Dykes.

But what SMU did last weekend against rival TCU should make defensive coordinators across the American Athletic Conference shudder. The Mustangs pounded out 350 rushing yards on 52 attempts in their 42-34 victory, passing the ball just eight times in the second half.

Ulysses Bentley IV (20 carries, 153 yards, one TD) and Tre Siggers (18 carries, 110 yards) surpassed 100 yards rushing for the Mustangs (4-0), who will host South Florida (1-3) on Saturday in the teams’ AAC opener.

“I think everybody was excited and had a lot of confidence about what we were able to do running the football,” Dykes said. “There’s nothing that’s more demoralizing to a football team than when someone can line up and just run right at them.

“We’ve talked about this since I got here, about running the football when everybody in the stadium knows you’re going to do it, and that’s hard to do. To me, that was what was pretty special about it.”

That SMU has developed a balanced offensive attack certainly has made others take notice.

“I think this will be the most talented offense that we’ve played to this point after watching them on video,” Bulls coach Jeff Scott said. “It’ll be a big-time challenge for us.”

The Bulls have grown accustomed to stiff challenges through an unforgiving non-conference schedule. USF rallied from a 21-point, first-quarter deficit last weekend against No. 15 BYU before falling 35-27, but might have discovered a quarterback.

Freshman Timmy McClain engineered five scoring drives over the final six possessions to lift the Bulls back into contention, with an unsuccessful onside kick in the fourth quarter finally stalling momentum.

South Florida incrementally has improved its results against quality competition, rebounding from a 45-point, season-opening loss to North Carolina State to a 22-point setback against Florida before making the Cougars sweat out the final minutes of their hard-earned win.

“I told the players that obviously we’re not happy with our record, but we also need to keep some perspective,” Scott said. “We’re the only team that’s played three teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25. We’ve played the most difficult four-game schedule of any team in the country coming off a season where we won one game. That’s as much adversity as you can have.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Cade Fortin (6) drops back against the Florida Gators during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

QB job up for grabs as USF hosts Florida A&M

South Florida coach Jeff Scott closely evaluated his quarterbacks this week as the Bulls prepared to host Florida A&M in a nonconference contest Saturday night in Tampa, Fla.

Cade Fortin has started the first two games and completed 12 of 18 passes for 91 yards in last weekend’s 42-20 loss to Florida. Timmy McClain relieved him in the second half last week and led the Bulls to 17 points, completing 4 of 10 passes for 83 yards.

“We’re not going to name a starter right now,” Scott said this week. “Obviously, we’ve evaluated and learned some things from this last game. Really, we are challenging all the quarterbacks in that room to have a great week and see just who does the best job for the game plan this week.”

Katravis Marsh completed his only attempt in his first appearance last week. Ridge Jacobs has not played.

“We’ll put somebody out there first and if they do well, they’ll be the starter,” Scott said. “If they don’t, we’ll continue to give guys opportunities until somebody steps up and takes the job, which needs to happen here pretty soon.”

The Bulls (0-2) have lost 10 consecutive outings, but Scott thinks the second-half play against the Gators could be a pivotal point in their season after a 45-0 thumping by North Carolina State in the opener.

Interceptions by safeties Mekhi LaPointe and Brock Nichols sparked the second-half surge against Florida. Jaren Mangham scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards, and Xavier Weaver had two catches for 68 yards along with a 45-yard punt return.

Florida A&M (1-1) also showed some progress in its second game, bouncing back from a 7-6 loss to Jackson State to register a 34-7 win over Fort Valley State. The Rattlers scored 27 points in the second half.

“The defense played phenomenal for two weeks in a row, creating turnovers and collecting some sacks,” FAMU coach Willie Simmons said. “We still have a lot of work to do offensively. Need to fine-tune the details and play more consistent upfront.”

The coaches know each other well, as Simmons and Scott were teammates for three years at Clemson.

“We came in the same year (1999) in the same class,” Scott said. “He was a quarterback and I was a wide receiver.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Ricky Person Jr. (8) runs the ball against the South Florida Bulls during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State cruises to 45-0 rout of South Florida

Zonovan Knight rushed 16 times for 163 yards and a touchdown, leading North Carolina State to a 45-0 win over the South Florida in a nonconference game Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.

The Wolfpack finished with a 525-271 edge in total yards, sending the Bulls to their ninth straight loss since they won their 2020 opener.

NC State’s defense did its part, getting interceptions from Drake Thomas, Cyrus Fagan and Tanner Ingle.

Ricky Person Jr., NC State’s other big-time running back, gained 148 yards from scrimmage. He rushed 16 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 43 yards and one score.

This was the first time since 2015 that NC State had two 100-yard rushers in the same game.

It was the season opener for both teams, but only the Wolfpack looked sharp. NC State quarterback Devin Leary completed 17 of 26 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.

Leary’s favorite target was Emeka Emezie, who caught five passes for 71 yards.

Meanwhile, USF quarterback Cade Fortin was benched after five drives. The Bulls got just one first down on those drives — on a run by Darrian Felix.

The Bulls went to true freshman Timmy McClain … and then back to Fortin after a pair of interceptions.

Fortin’s final stats: 7 of 20 for 41 yards with one interception. McClain completed 7 of 13 passes for 126 yards with two interceptions.

NC State led 10-0 after the first quarter and 24-0 at the half. The first half included Leary’s 33-yard TD pass to Person, Christopher Dunn’s 34-yard field goal and a pair of 11-yard running scores by Person.

The Wolfpack stretched their lead to 38-0 after three quarters. Knight ran 46 yards to the end zone, and Leary hit Christopher Toudle right between the numbers for a 7-yard score.

Jordan Houston, third on NC State’s running back depth chart, added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Wolfpack defense preserved the shutout with a last-minute goal-line stand. On fourth-and-goal from the NC State 4, Fortin threw incomplete into the end zone.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars players celebrate after the game against the South Florida Bulls at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston-SMU, Navy-USF ppd. due to COVID-19 issues

Houston’s game at SMU and Navy’s contest at South Florida this weekend have been postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases among the Cougars’ and Bulls’ programs, the American Athletic Conference said Wednesday.

The postponement of Saturday’s tilt marks the fifth time that Houston (3-3, 3-2 AAC) has had a game canceled or moved due to COVID-19 issues. The previous four occasions dealt with concerns involving the Cougars’ opponents.

“The health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff remains our top priority,” Houston vice president for athletics Chris Pezman said. “Postponing a game is not an easy decision to make, but we appreciate the collaborative approach from SMU and the American Athletic Conference as we worked through this decision. We are also very appreciative of the continued care of our medical staff and athletic trainers, who have worked tirelessly throughout this season.”

As for SMU (7-2, 4-2), its game against TCU on Sept. 11 was canceled because of coronavirus issues.

Navy (3-4, 3-2) had its scheduled game against Temple on Sept. 26 altered due to COVID-19 issues. That game was played on Oct. 10, with the Midshipmen posting a 31-29 victory.

Navy’s games against Tulsa on Nov. 7 and Memphis on Nov. 14 were also postponed. No makeup dates for either game has been announced.

USF (1-7, 0-6) had its Sept. 26 game against Florida Atlantic postponed due to the virus. A makeup date for either game has yet to be announced.

–Field Level Media