USF routs Temple to open AAC schedule
TAMPA, Fla. -- A year ago, the South Florida Bulls took one of their two losses at the hands of the Temple Owls, a defeat that kept them from playing for an American Athletic Conference title.
The No. 21 Bulls got some revenge Thursday night, getting six turnovers from a dominating defense and holding the Owls to 85 total yards in an easy 43-7 conference win at Raymond James Stadium.
“It’s always great to get a conference win -- when you play with passion and you play with enthusiasm, this is the performance you’re going to get,” USF coach Charlie Strong said.
USF cornerback Deatrick Nichols had two interceptions and a forced fumble, and the Bulls (4-0, 1-0 AAC) improved on a strong showing six days earlier after beating Illinois. Darius Tice rushed for 117 yards, including a 47-yard and 3-yard touchdowns, and D‘Ernest Johnson added 106 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers had a quiet night (8 of 20 for 96 yards), letting his defense put up the gaudy numbers.
Temple (2-2, 0-1) had rushed for 319 yards last year in a 46-30 win over USF. Temple didn’t come close to repeating that effort on Thursday -- the Owls had 18 carries for minus-22 yards at the half, finishing with minus-4 yards on 33 attempts.
Temple quarterbacks Logan Marchi and Frank Nutile combined for four interceptions, and the Owls had four total first downs entering the final quarter.
“Story of the game obviously is our lack of rushing offense vs. their really good rushing offense: negative-4 yards for us, (312) yards for them,” Temple coach Geoff Collins said. “And six turnovers, you’re not going to win very many games.”
Flowers, touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate before the season, ran for 59 yards and two scores. He also fumbled, which was returned 44 yards by defensive lineman Jacob Martin for Temple’s only points.
The Bulls got five field goals from Emilio Nadelman, matching the school record set by Maikon Bonani against Syracuse in 2012.
Between those field goals and being stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 2, USF had plenty of opportunities to put a lot more points on the board.
“Six turnovers is really great, put our offense in position to score a lot, even though we didn’t get touchdowns, we got field goals,” Strong said.
The Bulls are battling San Diego State to be the highest-ranked team outside the Power Five conferences.
“Give credit to them -- they did a really good job on defense, bringing blitzes from different angles,” Collins said. “I didn’t think we handled it very well.”
USF now has a few extra days to get ready for a road trip to East Carolina on Sept. 30, while Temple plays host to Houston on the same day.
NOTES: USF has scored at least 30 points in 21 straight games -- the modern record is 23 straight, set by Oregon in 2011-12. ... USF had 408 yards of total offense despite going just 3-for-16 on third downs. The Bulls also were penalized for 70 yards. ... Temple RB Ryquell Armstead, who went over 200 yards in last year’s win against USF, had 11 carries for 3 yards. FB Rob Ritrovato produced a game-high 24 rushing yards for the Owls.