TAMPA — USF coach Skip Holtz knows his team picked up a huge win at No. 16 Notre Dame on Saturday, even if the Fighting Irish racked up twice as many yards as the Bulls, with 508 total yards offset by five turnovers.
"I feel very fortunate we were able to win. We did not play very well on offense or defense. We made a lot of mistakes," Holtz said Sunday night after the 23-20 win. "I thought this football team did a great job of winning the football game. … Statistically, they won the battle, but the scoreboard is where we keep score."
Holtz said a conservative bend-but-don't-break strategy paid off, especially in the red zone, where the Bulls forced three key turnovers, all while not committing a turnover on offense.
"I thought our football team did a great job of protecting the ball and at the same time creating turnovers," Holtz said. "When you finish plus-five, you're going to win most football games."
HISTORIC: Of the 122 schools to come to Notre Dame, USF is just the 14th to win in its first try there, with Notre Dame holding a 103-14-5 edge (.844) against first-time visitors. And beating Notre Dame in a season opener? It's just about as difficult to do: USF's win was just the 13th time Notre Dame lost to open a season since 1900.
RARE COMPANY: USF joins Florida State (4-2) as the only Florida schools with a winning record against Notre Dame. Florida is 0-1 against the Fighting Irish, while Miami is 7-16-1.
THIS AND THAT: USF's next opponent, Ball State, caught the Bulls' attention, knocking off Indiana on Saturday. Like USF, Ball State committed no turnovers in the win in Indianapolis. … USF won Saturday despite having a longest play of 18 yards. Notre Dame had nine plays of 18 yards or longer, seven of them at least 22 yards. … P Justin Brockhaus-Kann's average of 36.8 yards wasn't particularly impressive, but his situational punting was outstanding, with three kicks inside the 20-yard line and no touchbacks. Brockhaus-Kann had punts downed or fair-caught at the Notre Dame 13, 9 and 1-yard line. … Holtz said his team suffered no injuries in the game, such that every player from Saturday will participate in Tuesday's practice after taking their regular day off today.