Sep 17, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; South Florida Bulls running back Michel Dukes (2) runs with the ball as Florida Gators linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. (1) defends during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

USF suspends RB Michel Dukes after battery arrest

South Florida suspended senior running back Michel Dukes indefinitely on Monday following a felony arrest this weekend.

He faces a charge of domestic battery by strangulation, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Dukes was arrested Saturday on the USF campus and his bond was set at $2,000, according to arrest records.

“I applaud the victim for coming forward,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news release. “We do not tolerate domestic violence. There is never a reason or excuse for this type of behavior. Our Victim Advocates will ensure this individual gets connected with any and all resources.”

The USF athletics department released a statement Monday saying it is continuing to gather more information.

Dukes, 22, transferred to USF in 2022 after three seasons at Clemson. He played in 11 games for the Bulls and rushed for 188 yards and five touchdowns, adding eight receptions for 72 yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights head coach Gus Malzahn looks on during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF still has clear path to AAC title game, visits South Florida

No. 22 UCF blew its chance to host the American Athletic Conference championship game with last weekend’s shocking loss to Navy but goes into its regular-season finale Saturday against South Florida at Tampa, Fla., still with an opportunity to play for the league championship.

While Tulane and Cincinnati will be playing this weekend for the right to host the title game on Dec. 3, the Knights (8-3, 5-2 AAC) could earn the visitor’s spot with a win over the Bulls (1-10, 0-7).

The Knights hold the tiebreaking edge over both Tulane and Cincinnati – and if Houston also wins Saturday, the resulting three-way tie could go all the way to a composite computer ranking. With UCF No. 22 in this week’s CFP rankings, the Knights would appear to hold an advantage over unranked Houston.

If Houston loses to Tulane, a UCF victory over USF would leave the Knights in the clear as the No. 2 team.

“We win the game (at South Florida) I like our chances,” UCF coach Gus Malzahn said. “That’s really about it.”

The tendency would be to take a win over the struggling Bulls for granted, but Malzahn knows all too well that a win last week over 3-7 Navy did not materialize. And he remembers last year’s 17-13 UCF squeaker of a victory over a two-win South Florida team.

“We’re not overlooking them, especially with what happened last year,” Malzahn said. “And they were in a similar situation.”

One difference is that Jeff Scott, who was coaching the Bulls that game, was fired earlier this month and special teams coordinator Daniel Da Prato is serving as South Florida’s interim coach.

Malzahn confirmed that John Rhys Plumlee will start at quarterback for UCF if he is healthy after missing the second half last week with a shoulder problem. Mikey Keene finished the loss to Navy.

“John Rhys is our starting quarterback,” Malzah said. “We’re fortunate enough to have a guy like Mikey right there ready to go. We’ll see how practice goes.”

USF, meanwhile, gave freshman Byrum Brown his first collegiate start last week and he responded with 240 yards and three touchdowns passing, and 76 and another score on the ground, in a 48-42 loss to Tulsa. His performance did not surprise Da Prato.

“Since the day he got here he has prepared for that opportunity,” Da Prato said. “And he’s prepared properly.”

This will be the last meeting between the rivals for a while. UCF is leaving the AAC to join the Big 12 in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Wilson Huber (2) sacks South Florida Bulls quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 Cincinnati sweats out home win over USF

Charles McClelland ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and No. 24 Cincinnati sweated out a 28-24 victory over visiting South Florida on Saturday.

McClelland ran in his second touchdown from 35 yards out in the fourth quarter to make the difference.

Cincinnati (5-1, 2-0 AAC) trailed 17-14 at halftime but still pulled out its 30th straight win at home and its 18th straight win over a conference opponent.

Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant was 15-for-21 passing for 178 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions before leaving in the fourth quarter with an unspecified injury.

South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon completed 10 of 20 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns to Xavier Weaver. Bohanon added 117 rushing yards to lead the Bulls (1-5, 0-2 AAC).

The Bulls opened the game with an 11-play, 75-yard drive. Brian Battie gained 31 yards on five carries, culminating with a 22-yard touchdown scamper.

Bryant went deep on the Bearcats’ first play on offense, and Aamaris Brown came up with a leaping interception. That led to Spencer Shrader’s 21-yard field goal for a 10-0 South Florida lead.

The Bearcats answered with a quick 75-yard drive in just six plays and 2:31 of game time. Jadon Thompson made three tacklers miss on a 28-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the quarter.

Bryant hooked up with Nick Mardner for a 14-yard touchdown to give Cincinnati its first lead of the day with 10:27 left in the half. But the Bulls came back with another 75-yard drive, with Bohanon finding Weaver for a 9-yard score to give them a 17-14 lead that stood up at halftime.

Cincinnati started the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard drive and McClelland dove in from a yard out to put them back in front, 21-17.

The sides traded punts, and South Florida stuffed Cincinnati on a fourth-and-1 attempt at the Bulls’ 12-yard line. On the next play, Bohanon broke off a 52-yard run up the left sideline.

That set up his 16-yard touchdown pass to Weaver on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving the Bulls a 24-21 lead.

McClelland had a wide running lane for his 35-yard touchdown with 9:24 to play.

The Bearcats’ defense swallowed up Battie on a South Florida fourth-and-1 attempt, and Cincinnati managed to run down the rest of the clock.
The Bearcats were also without running back Corey Kiner, who was scratched due to a hand injury.

–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

Nov 20, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights mascot Knightro interacts with fans during the game against the Connecticut Huskies during the second half at Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

UCF looks for fifth straight over USF in ‘War on I-4’

UCF will be going for a fifth consecutive victory against its neighboring American Athletic Conference colleague Friday afternoon when it hosts South Florida in Orlando in what the athletic departments call the “War on I-4.”

A victory over their struggling rival would give the Knights (7-4, 4-3 AAC) the longest winning streak for either team in the series that began in 2005 and assure them of a plus-.500 conference record for a fourth consecutive season.

USF (2-9, 1-6) has lost four games in a row.

UCF bounced back from a loss at SMU with a 49-17 rout of Connecticut last week. It was the Knights’ fourth victory in their last five games, and now they look to continue building momentum through a bowl game.

They are 5-3 since freshman Mikey Keene took over at quarterback when Dillon Gabriel broke his collarbone late in the loss to Louisville back on Sept. 17. Keene broke out against UConn, completing 23 of 29 passes for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also scored on a 30-yard run.

“If you look at Mikey, this is going to be his ninth game,” UCF coach Gus Malzahn said. “He played his best game, I think, last week and he’s improving each game.

‘You saw with the touchdown on the ground. That’s really a game-changer for us with him moving forward. I think he’s doing a super job leading us.”

USF, meantime, is coming off a 45-14 beatdown at Tulane. The Bulls have not won in more than a month, since their lone conference win, 34-24 over Temple on Oct. 23.

Their performance against the Green Wave was particularly distressing because they had shown some positive signs to start November in losses at home to ranked teams Houston 54-42 and Cincinnati 45-28.

Coach Jeff Scott fired defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer after the loss to the Green Wave, which marked the sixth time this season the Bulls have allowed more than 40 points.

“I made the decision Sunday morning that we really needed to make a change in our defensive coordinator position,” Scott said at his weekly media session. “It was not something I really wanted to do before the end of the season, but I felt like after the last game it was the right time.”

Ernie Sims (linebackers) and Daniel Da Prato (special teams) will serve as coordinators this week.

The teams have split the 12 games in the series. The winning team earns the right to a huge trophy of Interstate-4, which connects Tampa and Orlando, 100 miles apart.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2020; Greenville, North Carolina, USA;  Navy Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo looks on before the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Navy returns to the field, prepares for South Florida

Having missed their last two home games due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Navy Midshipmen got a clear bill of health in the form of negative coronavirus tests, allowing the Midshipmen to come together and prepare for Saturday night’s American Athletic Conference game against South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

Plenty of work looms for Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff to get the Midshipmen (3-4 3-2 AAC) ready to take on the Bulls (1-7, 0-6), who carry a seven-game losing streak that started after a season-opening 27-6 victory over The Citadel on Sept. 12.

Consider that Navy’s practice this past Friday (Nov. 13) was its first in-person team activity since Nov. 2. Numerous sources reported that through contact tracing the team could have been without at least 30 members if last Saturday’s game against Memphis had proceeded. Tuesday marked the team’s first live contact practice since a 51-37 loss to SMU in Dallas on Oct. 31.

Niumatalolo said his squad is fully intact, though he added that his staff hadn’t decided on a starting quarterback and would wait until later in the week to go with senior Dalen Morris or junior Tyger Goslin, who split time against SMU.

Morris, who has two rushing touchdowns, is 31-for-58 passing for a team-high 555 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. Goslin has three touchdowns and no interceptions, but has completed just 46 percent of his passes.

“We’re going to just try and go with it and make a decision as we get closer,” Niumatalolo said. “We have two huddles going and a lot of reps — it’s not like we have just one person getting the reps. We’d love to make (the decision) before Thursday so that quarterback could get all the Thursday reps.”

First-year coach Jeff Scott is also glad to have his team back on the field.

Thirteen South Florida players, including half of the team’s linebacking corps and graduate transfer quarterback Noah Johnson, missed last week’s 56-21 loss to Houston due to the virus and contact tracing.

Johnson, the 2018 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year while at Alcorn State, took every snap two weeks ago against Memphis, and he appeared to secure the position when he went 20-of-29 passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-33 loss.

But with Johnson unavailable at Houston, Scott turned to sophomore Jordan McCloud, who went 14-of-29 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. However, the Bulls trailed 28-0 at the half and never recovered.

“(It was) a really disappointing day overall,” Scott said. “Probably the only bright spot was coming out after halftime in a very tough situation. I felt like our guys really fought back.”

Navy has won two of the three meetings between the schools, including last season’s 35-3 win in Annapolis.

–Field Level Media