BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — USF's 46-39 victory over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Thursday was sweet for the Bulls for a number of reasons.
It extended USF's best season in program history with a record 11th win, and its nation-leading streak to 17 games with at least 30 points. It also was USF's first postseason triumph in six years.
To game MVP Quinton Flowers, however, it meant more on a personal level.
Flowers, out of Miami Jackson High in 2014, had countless offers from major Division I-A programs, including Alabama, Florida and Clemson. But those offers hinged on him playing other positions. Only USF wanted him to play quarterback.
Even South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, the head coach of Florida at the time, asked Flowers to shift to safety. He made the most of his opportunity Thursday to prove Muschamp and others they were mistaken, concluding with a bowl-record five touchdowns.
"A lot of big schools didn't give me a chance and wanted me to play a different position," Flowers said. "South Florida was the place that loved and cared about me, and wanted me to be their quarterback.
"I got here and my plan was to make a chance, and the team that made the chance. And now? We're 11-2."
Mack still undecided: Marlon Mack indicated after the game that he has not yet made a decision on whether he will enter the 2017 NFL draft or return to USF for his senior season.
Mack, the school's all-time leading rusher, said he plans to discuss things further with his family and new coach Charlie Strong, then go from there. Limited by a first-half left ankle injury Thursday, Mack finished with 53 yards on 13 carries.
"I don't really know yet," he said. "I'm planning on after the game sitting down with my parents, talking to Coach Strong, and I'll have a decision sooner or later."
Taggart tweets encouragement: Coach Willie Taggart might have departed for Oregon three weeks ago, but that didn't stop him from putting his USF visor back on for a short while.
Before his former team took the field, Taggart tweeted: "Good Luck today to @USFFootball in the Birmingham Bowl. Make them Know Your Name. Go Bulls! #Get11"
Taggart was named coach of the Ducks on Dec. 8 after guiding USF to a 10-2 regular-season record in his fourth and final season.
Turf wars: Legion Field's artificial playing surface caused plenty of sliding throughout the game and drew some raised eyebrows from USF players.
Rodney Adams, who set USF's single-season receptions record at 63 despite being hobbled for much of the game with a knee injury after slipping, joked that he didn't know "if that was turf or a rug."
"I'm not even sure if that was even turf," he said, laughing. "Anything's acceptable to play on. Just give us any field and we'll play. I'm just saying, I don't know if that was turf."