So much for a letdown. The South Florida Bulls (#22 AP) scored just eight seconds into the game and kept the pedal down for the entire first half, taking a 30-0 halftime lead over the Ball State Cardinals.
Ball State received the opening kickoff, but Mike Jeune and Saki Mihalakos combined to land a huge hit on returner Phil Dudley. The ball came loose, and Mark Joyce picked up the fumble and ran it in from 17 yards out to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead after only eight seconds of play. It tied Nate Allen’s touchdown against Louisville in 2007 (which was also a fumble return on a kickoff) for the fastest score to start a game in USF history.
USF’s offense has run up and down the field all night long. The Bulls rolled up an astounding 25 first downs and 386 yards from scrimmage in the first two quarters, which is over 130 yards more than they managed in the entire game last week against Notre Dame. B.J. Daniels is picking apart the Ball State secondary — he is 24-for-31 for 284 yards, with a touchdown pass to Victor Marc and receivers running free all over the field. (He did throw an interception on a deep pass when he and Sterling Griffin appeared to get their wires crossed.)
Ball State, on the other hand, cannot solve the fast USF defense. A week after controlling the game against Indiana, the Cardinals only have 72 total yards and just four first downs. Keith Wenning is 11-for-17 passing, but for just 55 yards, as the Bulls are smothering the Cardinals’ short passing game and getting receivers on the ground quickly.
Demetris Murray has the other USF touchdown, and Maikon Bonani made three field goals in the first half to break Santiago Gramatica’s school record for career field goals. While the Bulls are still having some issues in the red zone on offense, it doesn’t look like that will be a problem tonight.