Despite outgaining Cincinnati 438 to 278 yards, the University of South Florida Bulls lost on a game winning field goal as time expired 20-17 on Saturday night. The loss now puts USF at a must win position in their final two games in order to become bowl eligible for a fifth straight season.
The Bulls (4-6, 2-4 AAC) offensive game plan worked against the Cincinnati (9-1, 6-0 AAC) defense, with Jordan McCloud going 18-for-27 with 267 yards passing and a touchdown pass. The offensive line played well despite losing starting left tackle Donovan Jennings last week and helped pave the way for 191 yards rushing, well above their season average of 167.1 rushing yards per game. Running backs Jordan Cronkrite and Kelley Joiner rushed for 78 and 76 yards respectively.
Even more frustrating was that the defense one again played well enough to give USF a chance to win the game, holding Cincinnati to 0 points in the first half and 4-for-14 third down conversions for the entire game. The Bulls had four sacks and eight total tackles for loss.
However, the Bulls went 1-for-5 on field goals on the evening, missing from 50, 53, 43, and 33 yards respectively. The one make came on Spencer Shrader’s second attempt of the night, connecting from 28 yards. Charlie Strong told the media after the game that Coby Weiss was recovering from an injury and didn’t kick much during practice, leading to Shrader taking over as the primary kicker. The special teams woes continued for USF, giving up two lengthy kick returns and having a punt blocked.
USF also missed out on two red zone opportunities to score touchdowns, having one touchdown erased from the board for an offensive pass interference on their second drive of the game. The second empty trip occurred when Shrader had a 33-yard attempt hit off the right upright with 2:07 remaining in the game.
USF took the lead on a four-yard Trevon Sands rushing touchdown with 10:25 left in the first quarter. Cincinnati would not take the lead back until the final second ticked off the clock when Sam Crosa drilled game winning 37-yard field goal to put the Bearcats firmly in the driver’s seat for the East Division Title.
Cincinnati running back Michael Warren II lead all rushers with 135 yards on 26 carries and one score in the beginning of the fourth quarter to tie the game up 17-17. Desmond Ridder finished the night going 9-for-18 and 78 yards passing and also scampered for 47 yards on the ground.
USF will look to rebound next week against Memphis as they continue their fight to become bowl eligible in a do-or-die game.
- TE Mitchell Wilcox has moved up the top 10 in all-time career receiving yards and has tied Marquez Valdez Scantling at 8th all-time in touchdown receptions with 11.
- LB Patrick Macon did not play with an injury. In his place, LB Antonio Grier Jr. lead USF with six solo tackles, four assisted tackles, and two TFLs including one sack.
- Randall St. Felix lead all receivers with two catches for 70 yards.
- Eddie McDoom had three catches for 53 yards, including a 41 yard bulldozing run to get USF out of the shadow of their own end-zone.