(Tampa, FL) The USF Bulls will open their sixth season in The American Athletic Conference Saturday night vs. ECU, a team USF is 7-1 against all-time and has won three straight games against, including a 61-31 victory in Greenville in USF’s second AAC game last year. The Bulls are 4-1 in AAC openers, having won their last two. This will mark USF’s fifth AAC opener played at home, the Bulls are 3-1 in those games with a loss to Memphis (24-17) in 2015. USF is 9-6 all-time in conference openers. A win would mark USF’s second straight 4-0 start to a season (USF started 7-0 in 2017) and the seventh in program history.
PROGRAM WIN 150: USF is seeking the 150th win in program history in just its 22nd season. The Bulls will try to reach the mark in program game 255 (149-105, .586), which would be the fastest of any FBS program in the state of Florida to reach the mark. The next closest is Florida in 258 games. USF has gone 24-4 since the start of 2016.
AMERICAN ROLL: USF is 19-5 in AAC games over the last three seasons, the best record in the conference, and has won 10 of its last 11 AAC home games, with the loss coming to Houston (28-24) in the final 11 seconds last year. The Bulls have won seven straight home games vs. AAC East Division foes, with the last loss coming in 2014. The Bulls are 13-2 vs. East Division foes the last three years (losses at UCF (2017) and at Temple (2016) and 16-6 overall.
HOME COOKING: USF has won 18 of its last 21 home games, with 15 wins coming by two touchdowns or more.
EXTRA YARD FOR TEACHERS: USF will sport helmet decals in support of Extra Yard for Teachers. The CFP Foundation is spearheading the charge towards elevating the teaching profession using the high profile of college football through the implementation of four focus areas: resources, recognition, recruitment and professional development.
LAST TIME VS. ECU:
Six different players scored touchdowns in USF’s most explosive game of the 2017 season, a 61-31 victory at East Carolina hat marked the Bulls’ most points ever in a road game. It was USF’s second-highest scoring game in American Athletic Conference play.
USF rushed for a season-high 390 yards and totaled 575 total yards.
USF had a highly productive 21-point first quarter and held ECU to just seven second half points while running off 24 unanswered to cruise to the win.
Quinton Flowers passed Tim Tebow to become the state of Florida’s top career rushing FBS quarterback and posted 93 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries. Flowers added two touchdown passes during his 253-yard day.
• Play-by-Play: Dave LaMont
• Analyst: Ray Bentley
• Sideline Reporter: NA
• Online: espn.com/watch
RADIO: USF Radio Network
• Play-by-Play: Jim Louk
• Analyst: Sam Barrington
• Sideline Reporter: Joey Johnston
• In Tampa: 820 AM / 96.7 FM
• Digital: iHeart Radio – Bulls Unlimited Channel
(TAMPA) Another week and another conference honor for USF quarterback Blake Barnett who is off to a blazing start in his Bulls debut.
After being named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll following each of his first two USF starts, Barnett was named the Conference Offensive Player of the Week following a 411-yard passing day against Power Five foe Illinois and leading another fourth quarter comeback.
Barnett passed for two touchdowns and 172 yards in the fourth quarter as he led USF back from a 12-point deficit with drives of 75, 71 and 85 yards. The Bulls tallied 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, capped by Barnett’s game-winning 50-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Salomon with 2:24 to play.
Barnett completed 23-of-40 passes for 411 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He tallied 428 total yards on the day. Barnett’s passing yardage ranks as the second-most ever by a USF quarterback while his total yards rank seventh.
Barnett enters week 4 ranked in the top 21 of seven NCAA statistics. He stands eighth nationally in total offense (352.3 ypg), 10th in total passing yards (918), 11th in points per game (20.7 ppg) and 14th in passing yards per game (307.7 ypg). Barnett has thrown seven touchdown passes to five different receivers on the year, with four averaging 60 yards or better receiving per game, and is completing 64.8 percent of his passes.
Barnett will look to lead USF to its third straight conference opening win Saturday when the Bulls take on the ECU Pirates in an 8 p.m. kickoff at Raymond James Stadium. USF is 4-1 all-time in American Athletic Conference openers and 7-1 all-time vs. ECU.
A Bulls’ win would mark the 150th in program history in the program’s 255th game. That would make USF the fastest FBS program in the state of Florida to reach 150 wins, bettering Florida, which did it in the program’s 258th game in 1937.
The game will be televised by ESPNews and can be heard live on the USF Radio Network (820 AM locally, iHeart Radio Bulls Unlimited Channel).
(CHICAGO) USF (3-0) erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit with 18 unanswered points and extended its winning streak against Power Five foes to five straight with a 25-19 victory over Illinois at Soldier Field on Saturday.
Darnell Salomon (Miami) completed the comeback with a 50-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif.) with 2:24 remaining after starting the fourth quarter with a 14-yard touchdown reception. USF’s defense came up huge with three sacks on the final drive of the game and didn’t allow a touchdown for the final 55 minutes, 6 seconds.
Barnett threw both his touchdown passes to Salomon in the fourth quarter, completing 23 of 40 attempts for 411 yards, good for the second-best performance in the USF single-game record book. Salomon finished with five catches for 95 yards as the Bulls came from behind in the fourth quarter for the second straight week.
Defensively, linebackers Khalid McGee (Miami) and Nico Sawtelle (Jensen Beach, Fla.) had career-high tackle days with 14 and 13 stops, respectively. Ronnie Hoggins (Coconut Creek, Fla.) added 11 tackles while Kevin Kegler (Madison, Fla.) finished with a career-high 1.5 sacks.
Mitchell Wilcox (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) set a new USF game record for a tight end with eight catches for 109 yards, both career highs. Barnett also completed six passes to Randall St. Felix (Miami), who finished his second 100-yard game with 120 receiving yards and hauled in a career long 55-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Cronkrite (Miami) rushed for a career-high 136 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries to help the Bulls register their fourth 600-plus yard outing. The Bulls finished with 626 yards, outgaining Illinois, which finished with 380, by 246 yards on the day.
USF faced its first halftime deficit this season despite leading Illinois in offensive yards by a 267-231 margin in the first two quarters.
Illinois (2-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead just over four minutes into the first quarter. USF bounced right back with Cronkrite’s first touchdown run as a Bull from 3 yards out that capped off an 11-play, 75-yard drive in 3:02. The sequence was kept alive by a gutsy 7-yard reception by Wilcox on fourth-and-5 from the Illinois 26.
USF trailed, 16-7, at the break after preventing more points with a clutch takeaway on defense. Down, 13-7, in the second quarter, senior cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (Tampa) recovered an Illinois fumble at the USF 31 with 5:26 to go before halftime. McGee had a standout first half with nine tackles (seven solo).
USF cut into its 12-point fourth quarter deficit with Barnett’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Salomon on the first play of the period. Wilcox posted four catches for 53 yards on the 11-play, 75-yard drive.
Coby Weiss’ 26-yard field goal made it a two-point game with 7:47 remaining. The score was set up by a leaping, career long 55-yard catch by St. Felix down to the Illinois 12.
USF’s defense forced a punt with 3:47 left to give coordinator Gilbert’s offense a chance at a go-ahead score. USF needed just 1:17 to grab its first lead, capping off a six-play, 85-yard drive with Barnett’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Salomon. Barnett increased the lead to 25-19 with a two-point conversion pass to St. Felix.
Sacks by Kirk Livingstone (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Kegler and Tyrone Barber (Venice, Fla.) helped stall the final Illinois drive that ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone with no time remaining.
Head coach Charlie Strong’s thoughts on USF’s comeback victory:
The Bulls are back at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22 for a conference clash with East Carolina. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPNews.