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Certainly you couldn’t fault the South Florida Bulls if they spent a little bit of time savoring their 23-20 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday in South Bend. Despite being outgained 508-254 and struggling to convert their scoring opportunities, they collected five turnovers and never trailed on their way to a win over one of college football’s true blue-blood programs.
But big non-conference road wins are almost becoming passe; after all, this is the same program that’s won at Auburn, Florida State, and Miami in recent years, in addition to winning at West Virginia in 2006 to knock them out of contention for a BCS bowl. While the victory is important for getting the 2011 season off on the right foot and boosting the team’s profile, they also know that it has nothing to do with their ultimate goal.
"It’s a big step. Notre Dame, with their history and all," said senior safety Jerrell Young. "But even if we would have won or lost this game, it had nothing to do with our Big East championship goal."
Holtz said, "What we have not done is we have not been able to line up and play consistently through the course of a year and win a Big East championship, and that’s the No. 1 goal we have as a football team right now and with what we’re trying to do."
Big East play doesn’t begin until September 29 in Pittsburgh, but the Bulls do have three straight home games with which to continue building momentum towards their conference schedule and their goal of a BCS bowl game. USF hosts the Ball State Cardinals this Saturday at 7:00pm at Raymond James Stadium.
For more USF coverage, visit Voodoo Five, SB Nation’s USF blog.
The South Florida Bulls controlled the ballgame, turning five Fighting Irish Turnovers into points, then held on for an impressive 23-20 victory on the road
We’ll have more on this game soon!
You don’t hear the fans in South Bend boo their Notre Dame Fighting Irish off the field at halftime much. But their Irish are completely out of sorts and they trail the South Florida Bulls 16-0 at the half.
Although Notre Dame has outgained USF 180-144, they have three brutal turnovers and some ill-timed penalties to blame for keeping themselves off the scoreboard. The Irish were all set to cut USF’s lead to 13-7 early in the second quarter. But a holding penalty on the edge wiped out a touchdown run, and on third and goal from the 8-yard line, Dayne Crist short-armed a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by DeDe Lattimore for a touchback.
USF drove down and missed a 52-yard field goal. Then after an exchange of punts, Leon Riddick muffed Justin Brockhaus-Kann’s first punt of the afternoon and Victor Marc fell on it at the Notre Dame 20-yard line. Maikon Bonani’s third field goal, from 37 yards out, extended the Bulls’ lead to 16 points.
The Irish have made a ton of mistakes — the penalties and turnovers, plus several dropped passes — and USF has taken advantage to some degree. If anything, the Bulls could have a 30-point lead if not for their offensive execution in scoring range. The Bulls are 0-for-7 on third down so far.
USF will receive the second-half kickoff, but with thunderstorms moving through and towards South Bend, it might be awhile before the second half begins. The stands have already been cleared because of lightning in the area. This might not be such a good thing for the Bulls, because it gives Brian Kelly extra time to settle his team down and refocus them for the second half.
The Irish took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field to the edge of the USF end zone. But on third and goal, Jonas Gray was stacked up on a sweep and had the ball ripped out of his hands. Kayvon Webster picked up the fumble and ran 96 yards for a touchdown and a stunning 7-0 Bulls lead. It was the longest defensive play from scrimmage in school history.
After stopping Notre Dame and getting a bad punt from Ben Turk, USF moved 41 yards in eight plays and just nosed into field goal range. Maikon Bonani hit a 49-yard field goal to extend the Bulls’ lead to 10-0. Then following a three-and-out, Terrence Mitchell returned Tate’s second punt 34 yards into Notre Dame territory. A run by Lindsey Lamar and two consecutive face mask penalties put the ball inside the 10. But the Bulls were unable to punch it in from close range and settled for another Bonani field goal to make the score 13-0.
The Irish are threatening to score early in the second quarter and have not been struggling to move the ball. Despite the early lead, there’s a lot of football left.
Skip Holtz heads back to his alma mater for the 2011 season opener as the USF Bulls take on the #16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Kickoff is at 3:30 PM will be aired nationally on NBC. For those who can't get to a TV, the game will be aired on 970 WFLA AM.
The Bulls will try to build off their impressive 8-5 season last year, and a victory in South Bend would be one of the biggest wins in the short history of the program.
If USF is to win today, the Bulls are going to need a big day from B.J. Daniels. The junior quarterback from Tallahassee had a turbulent first season in the new system, but Daniels was significantly better towards the end of the year. His monster game against a quality Clemson defense in the Meineke Car Care Bowl suggested that he was finally comfortable in the new offense and can take care of the ball.
The Bulls will have to adjust with the Irish's 3-4 defense, which is led by ILB Manti T'eo. The 6'2" 255 LB has played from Day 1 and is one of the best linebackers in the country. OLB Darius Fleming has blossomed since moving to the 3-4 last year, and Prince Shembo has adjusted nicely at the other OLB postition. You'll see a mixture of Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese at the other ILB spot. Both are quality players, just nowhere near the level of Te'o. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE Ethan Johnson and NT Sean Cwynar will be a challenge for our offensive line, and their backups Louis Nix III, Aaron Lynch, and Stephon Tuitt are no pushovers as well. They actually might be more talented then the starters, and I'm a little relieved we get them so early this year.
Gary Gray, Robert Blanton, Jamoris Slaughter, and Harrison Smith are an experienced, quality defensive back group that have played together for years. Their backups are a major step down in quality, and if one is hurt, don't be surprised if Daniels attacks their replacement.
On defense, the Bulls will have to watch out for wide receivers Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick. Floyd might be the best wide out in the country. He has tremendous size at 6'3" 221 lbs, runs some of the best routes in the country and hardly drops anything when it comes his way. Senior cornerback Quenton Washington will most likely get the call to guard Floyd. Quenton will be giving up a few inches to Floyd, but he will be able to keep up with Floyd and will probably be the matchup of the day. You'd almost be sure that Jerrell Young will be shaded towards whatever side Floyd is on.
Riccick is the speedster of the group, and this speed vs speed matchup against Kayvon Webster will be a fun one to watch. T.J. Jones will be the 3rd WR on the field, with Robby Toma rounding out the rotation.
Getting the ball to them is Dayne Christ. The senior passed for 2033 yards and 15 touchdowns in 9 games last before rupturing his patelar tendon against Tulsa. He has an excellent arm and is a threat to run with the ball, but he can be erratic with his throws. Cierre Wood is the first and second option for the Irish. If the Bulls expect to pull off the upset, the front seven need to keep the running game from breaking out so we won't have to bring Jon LeJiste in the box.
If you are looking for some quality breakdown of the Irish offense, the guys at One Foot Down have you covered. Click here, here, here, and here for a general overview of what Notre Dame ran last year.
Weather might be a factor today. Forecasters are calling for heavy storms over South Bend during the game, and that might give the Bulls an advantage with trying to get Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray going with their running game.
This Saturday at 3:30pm, the South Florida Bulls kick off their football season with an away game against Notre Dame.