GAINESVILLE — Florida fans knew entering this season that the fastest man in college football wasn't going to be caught from behind.
But running back Jeff Demps hasn't just outrun opposing defenses in the first two games; he has eluded upset bids.
Before Demps' 62-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, No. 8 Florida found itself in an unexpected dogfight against an overmatched team for the second straight week. And, once again, a Demps carry swung the momentum.
After the junior's touchdown, Florida outscored USF 31-7 and outgained the Bulls by 114 yards.
Last week against Miami (Ohio), Florida gained 102 yards in two drives after Demps' 72-yard touchdown. In the previous 10 drives combined, the Gators had managed only 26 yards.
"You've got to create your own momentum," offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. "All of a sudden, you feel that energy. You feel that surge. You can see the eyes pop back open, and it's like, 'Bam!' Sometimes that's what you need."
Five minutes after Demps' touchdown Saturday, the Gators held a 28-7 lead.
At halftime, Demps had touched the ball only five times. But he became the focal point of the offense after his long run, ending the game with 255 total yards on 14 touches, including a career-high 139 yards rushing.
"Jeff Demps is a guy who you want to have the ball," coach Urban Meyer said. "We were very conscious of that in the second half. Dempsie really had a hell of a day."
His day included a 21-yard catch negated by a holding penalty and a 54-yard kick return that set up a field goal.
When Demps touched the ball, Florida gained an average of 18.2 yards. On the 56 plays when he did not, the offense averaged 4.7 yards.
"Those are big hits," Addazio said. "You need those. It's hard to go 99 yards."
And Demps' third-quarter touchdown seemed to energize the Florida defense. The Gators forced a three-and-out on the next drive, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins returned a punt 30 yards to set up Florida's third touchdown.
On the next drive, linebackers Brandon Hicks and Jon Bostic pressured USF quarterback B.J. Daniels, forcing him to throw a pass directly at defensive end Justin Trattou, who returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown.
Florida limited USF to five first downs after Demps' score.
"We were down a little bit in the first half," Bostic said. "But his run, getting the offense going, actually helped pick us up, too."