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Box Score EMOJICAP: USF 37, UConn 20

Numbers and emojis, two of our favorite things.

NCAA Football: South Florida at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

We interrupt USF basketball talk(!?) for this week’s EMOJICAP.

We used this emoji for Quinton Flowers last year, after his epic 200/200 performance single-handedly willed USF to victory over Memphis. He broke his own school record for total offense in a game against UConn, reminding us all he is USF’s football king.

Flowers made it to 516 total yards — 385 passing and 131 rushing. He peppered one of the worst pass defenses in the country with short and medium completions, and he would have broken the USF single-game passing record (409 yards) if not for a bad case of the dropsies by his receivers.

One of those drops was by Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a sure touchdown pass in the third quarter. USF still put the ball in the end zone on that drive. Then when the Bulls got the ball back, MVS made up for it and then some.

Valdes-Scantling turned a 10-yard pass into a 95-yard touchdown to put UConn to the sword. His catch and run tied DeAndrew Rubin for the longest play from scrimmage in USF history and helped put him on track to break a lot of USF single-season receiving records. Rodney Adams holds the receiving yardage record at 822, a mark he reached in both 2015 and 2016. MVS is at 720 yards, giving him a very good chance to break that record. He’s also 280 yards away from finally becoming the first 1,000-yard receiver in school history. (Seriously, how has no one ever come close to that?)

Was Saturday’s game a breakthrough for much-maligned (to put it mildly) Sterlin Gilbert? Gone were the plays to nowhere at breakneck speed, the endless dives up the middle, the awkward throws for Flowers. In its place were designed QB runs, bubble screens, and more variety in formations. Sterlin even remembered he had Mitchell Wilcox and called a touchdown play for him. It was easily the most Gulf Coast Offense-y the USF attack has looked all season. Maybe there was a reason for that...

It isn’t rocket science. USF has better athletes at the skill positions than just about everyone they play. Get the ball in Flowers’ hands and let him cook. Get the ball in his receivers’ hands and let them beat their defenders. What we saw against UConn was a nice blend of last year’s offense and this year’s offense. It worked for over 600 yards from scrimmage, and it should have put 44 points on the board, EXCEPT...

Oh, Darius Tice, you unlucky young man. Tice made a great effort to bounce a run outside and was heading in for a score in the final seconds of the game. But he lost the ball at the UConn 2 and it rolled out the side of the end zone for a touchback. It cemented the final score at 37-20.

Not only was it a bad beat for Tice personally, but it had some serious IMPLICATIONS.

“David” Tice’s fumble led off Scott Van Pelt’s Bad Beats segment on Monday night’s SportsCenter. USF was favored by anywhere between 21.5 and 23.5 points, and they could have covered all those numbers had Tice made it to the goal line with the ball. However, it was not to be. Hail Gamblor.

As SVP points out in that video, Huskies fans had to be facepalming when Randy Edsall decided to go for two after UConn scored a touchdown to make the score 37-20. Naytron Culpepper intercepted a terrible fade in the end zone and the conversion failed. Now instead of kicking the PAT and making it a two-score game, it was still a three-score game.

I guess there’s an argument for going for two early so you know in advance how much you still need. But there’s only 6:32 left in the game. At most, you’re getting two more possessions. You have to keep yourself alive in the time you have left. Terrible decision by Edsall. And as it turned out, UConn essentially got zero more possessions. After living through three years of S*** H****, it’s still nice to see the other team’s coach make a horrible strategic decision.