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USF makes history with its biggest comeback

TAMPA — It was clear Friday night that No. 19 USF made a huge turnaround in rallying from 17 points down to beat No. 13 Kansas, 37-34.

In fact, it was the Bulls' biggest comeback in the school's 12-year history.

Never before have the Bulls, who trailed 20-3 late in the second quarter, faced so large a deficit and recovered to win. Only four times have they faced so much as a 10-point deficit and won, the largest being a 14-0 deficit early in a 41-27 win against New Haven in 1999.

QB Matt Grothe, who threw for 338 yards and had three total touchdowns Friday, had a hand in overcoming a 13-point deficit. In his first career start two years ago against Florida International, USF fell behind 20-7 in the third quarter and trailed until Grothe found Taurus Johnson for a 29-yard touchdown with 2:33 left in a 21-20 win.

EXTRA DRAMA: For the second week in a row, USF's defense let a 14-point deficit slip away in the fourth quarter, but as the Bulls did in overtime against Central Florida six days earlier, the defense came up with one last big play to seal the win.

"It's a big concern," DE George Selvie said. "But we came in at the end and won the game, so that's all that matters."

Selvie, who set a school record with 14.5 sacks last season, picked up his first sack against Kansas' Todd Reesing, and became USF's career sack leader with 21.

He entered the season sharing that honor with former Bulls LB Stephen Nicholas.

MUCH IMPROVED: Against Central Florida, USF struggled on special teams, giving up Joe Burnett's 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, letting him break loose on punts and block a field goal as well.

On Friday, the Bulls were much improved, allowing no returns on Delbert Alvarado's five punts, and limiting Kansas to 33 yards on three kickoff returns. Justin Teachey, who had just two touchbacks in USF's first two games, had three against the Jayhawks, and Alvarado had a punt downed on the Kansas 7-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

THIS AND THAT: Friday's crowd of 58,755 is the third-largest home crowd in USF history, trailing only last year's sellouts against West Virginia and Central Florida. … USF has won its past four meetings against ranked teams going back to Novemberr 2006, but it hasn't been easy — all four wins have been by eight points or fewer, including an overtime win at Auburn last season.

USF makes history with its biggest comeback 09/13/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 13, 2008 7:56pm]
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