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UC assistant hospitalized before game

Cincinnati offensive coordinator Rusty Burns was taken to an area hospital Friday before kickoff.

In a statement released less than half an hour before gametime, the Bearcats said Burns, 47, had been taken for treatment but didn't specify his ailment.

Burns, the quarterbacks coach at Cincinnati from 1989 to '91, returned as offensive coordinator last season. His offense set school records for passing yards, total offense and points in 2002.

NEW BLOOD: Boos for the Bulls offense changed to cheers when Brian Fisher replaced starter Ronnie Banks at quarterback.

Before the change with 6:20 left in the second quarter, the Bulls had not recorded a first down and had gained 1 yard in the first quarter. With Fisher at the helm, the Bulls recorded two straight first downs, the first coming with 5:40 to go, and gained about 35 yards. Fisher remained to lead the final drive before halftime.

THREE'S COMPANY: Pat Julmiste entered for the Bulls on the final play of the first half, meaning all three quarterbacks played before halftime. Julmiste threw incomplete into the end zone as time expired.

UGLY: The offense was held scoreless in the first half, the 11th time that has happened in school history. As of halftime, it hadn't scored a touchdown since Oct. 18 against Charleston Southern. The team hadn't scored a conference touchdown since Oct. 10 against TCU. By halftime Friday, the Bulls had gained 65 yards, 2.5 per play. The Bulls trailed in time of possession by more than 10 minutes.

PRESIDENTIAL HOMECOMING: Former USF president Betty Castor was in attendance for homecoming. Castor was the fifth USF president before stepping down. Current president Judy Genshaft took over in July 2000.

MASCOT MANIA: The USF Bull debuted a new outfit. Its silver coat appeared more shiny than its predecessor's and its horns more golden. The new and improved mascot attended in a basketball uniform. It was joined on the field by Tampa Bay's professional mascots, Thunderbug from the Lightning, Raymond from the Devil Rays and the Buccaneers' pirate.

ZONED OUT: For two straight games, beginning with the nationally televised contest against TCU, the end zones at Raymond James Stadium featured in block letters "USF" and "Bulls." But with the Buccaneers playing Sunday, the end zones were back to their usual pewter and red. The Bulls' emblem, which had been set alone in the middle of the field, was surrounded by a white outline of the Buccaneer battle flag.

NATIONAL OVEREXPOSURE: Friday's game was televised on ESPN2, marking the fourth time the Bulls have appeared on national television. The Bulls were 0-3, losing at home against TCU and at Alabama this season and at Oklahoma last season.

SACK TIME: Senior safety Kevin Verpaele recorded his first career sack Friday on a third-down blitz on Cincinnati's first possession. Going in, Verpaele had 173 career tackles without a sack.

PICKED: J.R. Reed's first-quarter interception of Gino Guidugli boosted his school record to 14.

LOCAL BOYS: Former Armwood standout Carl Jones returned kicks for the Bearcats. Bearcats defensive end Tommy Simpson also is from Tampa.

ISKRA RETURNS: Bulls senior wide receiver Chris Iskra returned to the field with seconds remaining in the first quarter. Iskra dislocated his left elbow in preseason, missing the first two games. He injured his hamstring in his return against Army, forcing him to miss four more games. Two passes thrown to him at the end of the first quarter were incomplete.

_ ROB BRANNON

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