Brady White passed for all of his 222 yards in the first half, and senior Patrick Taylor celebrated his return from a foot injury by rushing for three touchdowns as No. 18 Memphis overcame a sputtering start for a 49-10 victory over South Florida on Saturday in Tampa, Fla.
Limited to two brief appearances since being injured in the second game, Taylor rushed for 95 yards as the Tigers (10-1, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) stayed on pace in the AAC West race with their fifth consecutive victory. They can clinch a berth in the league’s championship game with a win at home on Friday against East-leading Cincinnati.
Kenneth Gainwell rushed for 128 yards for the Tigers, who outscored South Florida 42-0 over the last three quarters.
The Bulls (4-7, 2-5) saw their hopes to clinch bowl eligibility burst with their third consecutive loss.
Memphis finished with 560 yards in total offense and held USF to just 170 — 51 in the second half.
White had only 62 yards passing in the first quarter and was intercepted for the second time in the opening minute of the second, but he passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter to rally the Tigers.
USF freshman Kelley Joiner made his first start and posted his first 100-yard rushing game with 115 yards while subbing for senior Jordan Cronkrite, who was held out on a precautionary basis for an undisclosed injury.
The Bulls had early leads of 7-0 and 10-7 but could cash in with only a field goal after coming up with two interceptions in the first half, and the Tigers made them pay for that.
Taylor scored the second of his two first-half touchdowns on a 5-yard run to put the Tigers up 14-10, then White completed touchdown passes of 50 yards to receiver Kedarian Jones and 23 to receiver Damonte Coxie with just 5 seconds left in the second quarter to give Memphis a 28-10 cushion at the break.
—Field Level Media