TAMPA — For those scoring at home, the Marching 100 is Florida A&M's famous marching band, not the USF offense, which seemed to be only stopped by the halftime performance Saturday night.
The No. 20 Bulls (3-0) set all sorts of offensive records Saturday, jumping to a 49-14 halftime lead and cruising with backups to a 70-17 victory against the I-AA Rattlers (1-2) before an announced crowd of 50,128 at Raymond James Stadium.
Quarterback B.J. Daniels was prolific again — after throwing for a career-best 359 yards last week against Ball State, he had 355 at halftime, including four touchdown passes and another on the ground. And running back Darrell Scott had a breakout game, getting a 56-yard touchdown run and an 84-yard score on a screen pass on the way to a 197-yard first half.
To find a higher scoring total for the Bulls, you have to go all the way back to the first game in program history, an 80-3 win against Kentucky Wesleyan back in 1997.
"It's certainly hard to find a whole lot to complain about tonight, when you look at the way we played in all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams," coach Skip Holtz said. "We weren't trying to make yards to get records. After the first drive of the second half, it's like, 'It's over. We need to get these other guys ready for Big East play.' "
The Bulls were so in control that Holtz inserted his second-string offense in the first quarter, only to see backup Bobby Eveld hit as he threw, and Florida A&M returned the interception to the USF 7, setting up the first first-half points the Bulls allowed this season. The Rattlers added a second score, but that was little compared to the way the Bulls marched down the field.
One gripe in USF's first two wins was too often, they settled for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone; kicker Maikon Bonani was limited to only extra points (10) Saturday.
"The most important thing is being consistent," Daniels said. "It's getting the W, trying to prevent the bad play. Those are the top three things on my list right now, making sure I'm helping the team get in a position to win."
It was the kind of game that left one scrambling through the record books — USF's previous record for total offense in a game was 580 yards (Liberty, 2001), and USF beat that on the opening drive of the second half, which ended with a 30-yard Scott touchdown. The Big East record of 729 yards, set by Louisville in 2007, also fell, as the Bulls finished with 745.
Daniels matched Matt Grothe's school record of 382 passing yards, completing 21-of-31, with receiver Sterling Griffin leading the way with eight catches for 97 yards and a score. Scott finished with a career-best 146 yards, averaging 12.2 yards on his 12 carries. Eveld threw two interceptions, but went 9-for-12 for 95 yards in relief.
USF's defense held Florida A&M to 181 yards total, and just three points in the second half.
"Going into any game, we want a shutout," linebacker Sam Barrington said. "We had too many penalties as a group. We have to get out and play more sound football."
USF has one more home tuneup on the schedule, hosting lowly UTEP next week before the Bulls open Big East play Sept. 29 at Pittsburgh. The Panthers lost to Iowa on Saturday, solidifying USF's status as the top challenger to preseason league favorite West Virginia.
That game picked up an added level of intrigue Saturday with news that Pittsburgh and Syracuse had applied to leave the Big East and join the ACC, a move that leaves the future of Big East football uncertain as college football's major conferences continue to reshuffle their lineups.