Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Louisville Cardinals defeat USF Bulls 34-24

TAMPA — In his previous four losses, all by less than a touchdown, USF coach Skip Holtz made a point in his postgame comments to say how proud he was of his players, how a single play here or there separated victory from defeat.

There was no such consolation Friday afternoon, as Holtz's Bulls, staked to a 17-3 lead just before halftime, pulled together an ineffective offense, a consistently disappointing third-down defense and awful special teams play, helping Louisville pull away to a 34-24 win.

"Defensively, we were poor. You shouldn't leave that many guys uncontested, wide open," Holtz said. "We did not play very smart today as a football team. … Take 17 points off the board and ask how big special teams were in this game. I think it was absolutely huge."

The Bulls (5-6, 1-5 Big East) are in serious jeopardy of missing a bowl game. They must beat West Virginia (7-3) on Thursday to be eligible, then hope a bowl is willing to invite a team that lost six of its last eight.

If the season has slipped away from Holtz and USF, which has its most losses in six years, so too has its fan base. Just six days earlier, the Bulls announced 57,572 fans for a home game against Miami, but this time, saddled with an 11 a.m. Friday morning kickoff, the Bulls announced just 33,416 — USF's smallest crowd in more than five years. The actual attendance was just 19,115, less than half of the 46,245 actually there for Miami on Saturday.

And after handling loss after loss as a unified team, there were signs of frustration within the locker room, as redshirt junior running back Darrell Scott said complaints were made among players about costly turnovers.

"We've got to come together first. We can't split apart," Scott said. "(Saturday) we have off, and the next day we've got to get together, work and sort this out … We were kind of bickering a little amongst each other. We've got to stay together. We will. You know how you point fingers for turnovers and stuff. We're not used to all these L's."

The offense played without starting quarterback B.J. Daniels, who hurt his throwing shoulder in the Miami loss. Backup Bobby Eveld, in just his second start, struggled to move the ball in the second half for the second week in a row.

Whether by special teams mistakes or offensive turnovers, USF's defense faced many short fields — Louisville (7-5, 5-2) had four scoring drives shorter than 40 yards as it clinched a share of first place in the Big East. USF's offense struggled enough in the second half that the defense was on the field more than twice as often.

"We kind of like it for the game to be on our backs, but it kind of wears down on us a little bit," senior defensive tackle Keith McCaskill said. "We have to keep a positive mind and just keep going out there and fighting."

Bold playcalling helped the Bulls to a 17-3 lead, with a 35-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-3 gamble, then another touchdown was set up by a fourth-and-1 conversion from the wildcat formation, with receiver Victor Marc (who muffed a punt return earlier) taking the direct snap.

Momentum shifted to Louisville in the final minute of the half, when Senorise Perry returned a short squib kickoff 54 yards to the USF 25 with 35 seconds left. Two plays later, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found fellow freshman DeVante Parker for a 17-yard touchdown, cutting the Bulls' lead to 17-10 with 22 seconds on the clock.

"That kickoff return was huge," Bridgewater said. "We were killing ourselves early in the game with penalties and just not finishing. For him to get a return like that, he just broke it loose. It was just what we needed, and it got us started."

Trailing 24-20 in the fourth quarter and facing fourth and 1 at the USF 13, the Cardinals converted, then got another Bridgewater touchdown pass for a 27-24 lead with 9:38 left.

With 5:43 left, USF got the ball on its 6, but its last hopes ended when freshman receiver Andre Davis fumbled at the USF 17; two plays later, Louisville scored another touchdown and the game was out of reach.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Greg Auman can be reached at or (813) 226-3346. View his blog at

Louisville Cardinals defeat USF Bulls 34-24 11/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 25, 2011 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. For starters: Rays at Jays, looking for some carryover


    The six runs and 13 hits the Rays posted on Tuesday were a positive, but the true test if they are out of their historically bad hitting slump will come tonight and in the coming days as they try to build on their success.

    "Hopefully,'' manager Kevin Cash said after Tuesday's 6-4 win, "there is a …

    Daniel Robertson is expected to make a third straight start tonight, likely at shortstop.
  3. What you might have missed in the second episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for another episode of The Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find behind-the-scenes insights and things you might have missed in Tuesday's second episode of "Hard Knocks," following the Bucs in …

    As the crowd recognized him and got loud, Jameis Winston jumped up and down in celebration. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
  4. Why Noah Spence could be the Bucs' X-factor


    JACKSONVILLE — Noah Spence crouched in a four-point stance, bending low like a sprinter in starting blocks. At the snap, he took one step to his right, startling Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells with his explosiveness. Wells went for the move and Spence countered with an inside swim move, flying past Wells' right …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence (57) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  5. Lefty quarterback's task? Make sure nothing's lost in translation


    GAINESVILLE — When Florida receiver Brandon Powell first met new quarterback Malik Zaire this summer, he was struck by the Notre Dame grad transfer's enthusiasm and outgoing personality.

    Florida quarterback Malik Zaire talks with the press during the NCAA college football team's media day in Gainesville. Zaire is a lefty quarterback, just like Tim Tebow. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, File)