Monday, December 18, 2017
Colleges

Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person

TAMPA

No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

The Bulls are 22-4 in their past 26 games and this is what they get for a nationally televised game? An announced attendance of 24,325?

If only Temple traveled better.

No matter. The USF defense showed up. And then some.

The offense did, too, when it wanted to be bothered.

RELATED: No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated.

The Bulls are rolling. Also, I have figured something out. Follow my math: If you score at least 30 points a game, which USF always does, and the other guys don't, well, you win every time.

USF is doing exactly what it needs to do, beating the chumps placed before it. But did you ever think we'd be talking about the USF defense leading the way and the offense taking a back seat?

First and foremost it was about beating Temple, which last season dashed USF's dreams of an AAC title with a 46-30 trampling that featured 319 rushing yards for the eventual conference champion.

Bulls coach Charlie Strong had his team locked down this week. USF players downplayed revenge.

ESPN analyst and former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland, who worked Thursday's game, didn't buy it.

"When someone rushes for over 300 yards against you and shoves it down your throat, even with a new staff coming in, there's going to be an element of payback," McFarland said the day before the game. "One of the most gratifying things in football is for one man to move another man against his will. Temple moved USF all over the field that night. Regardless of the coaching staff, some of those players are still here. Trust me, payback is definitely on their minds."

RELATED: Record night for Bulls, QB Quinton Flowers.

Paid back in full.

The Bulls are 4-0 because they're far better than anyone they've faced thus far. That's not likely to change as the season goes on.

But the offense left points on the field. Dreary play-calling didn't help.

This was USF's conference opener. And open it did.

The Bulls delivered. The defense, often so awful last season, was in lockdown mode, with six takeaways, including two interceptions and a forced fumble by defensive back Deatrick Nichols and an interception and a fumble recovery by linebacker Nico Sawtelle.

Maybe no one on the Bulls' schedule can beat them. The lightweight schedule is almost a knock on USF at this point. The more it wins, the more people will point to who it's playing or not playing.

RELATED: USF defense feeds on Temple offense to take NCAA interceptions lead.

The offense could have been as focused as the defense Thursday. A week after putting up 680 yards on Illinois, it mucked around a little too much. Still put up 43. Kind of scary.

But the Bulls remain highly capable of pitching a perfect regular season. A look at the remaining schedule tells us that. A look at the defense Thursday told us that, too.

"I think the biggest improvement they made is defensively," McFarland said. "I think Charlie and (defensive coordinator Brian) Jean-Mary have played a big role in that, because they were terrible on defense last year."

All the same, USF extended its streak of scoring 30 points or more to a nation-leading 21 games.

"I think they can win every game," McFarland said. "I think they'll be in Big Six bowl as the best team in the Group of Five. And if they get the right matchup, they'll win a big bowl game."

If the defense keeps showing up, people might have to start showing up at USF games.

Well, let's not get carried away.

Comments
Photos, video: FIU, Temple compete in lawn mower race at Busch Gardens

Photos, video: FIU, Temple compete in lawn mower race at Busch Gardens

Members of the Florida International University and Temple football teams participated in a lawn mower race Monday at Busch Gardens as part of the festivities leading up to Thursday’s Gasparilla Bowl at Tropicana Field.Head coaches Butch Davis of FIU...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

SUNRISE — Marcquise Reed threw a 75-foot pass to Elijah Thomas for a dunk that put Clemson ahead to stay with 37 seconds left, and the Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half Saturday to beat No. 22 Florida 71-69 in the Orange Bowl ...
Published: 12/16/17

Tim Tebow wants to help throw you a tailgate wedding (sausages included)

Tim Tebow loves weddings.He apparently also loves football, tailgate parties and a good brat, which might explain why he’s lending his pitchman talents to a contest that ties all four together.In a promotional video, Tebow asks, "What happens when yo...
Published: 12/14/17
River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

Two years ago, Chris Schwarz was mulling over his college choices. The former River Ridge High standout had offers from Valparaiso, Florida Tech and West Florida. West Florida?That one baffled Schwarz, mostly because he knew nothing about the school....
Published: 12/14/17
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Published: 12/13/17
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17