Tampa, Fla. (CBS) With a 17-3 lead just before halftime, the USF Bulls (5-6, 1-5 in Big East) looked to be in good position to win their second Big East game and secure a bowl bid in front of their home crowd at Raymond James Stadium Friday afternoon.
But a display of poor third down defense, hideous special-teams play and an inefficient offense led by back up quarterback Bobby Eveld resulted in a 34-24 defeat, their sixth loss in seven games.
B.J Daniels remained sidelined from a shoulder injury he suffered last week against Miami, and with Eveld in command the offense lacked consistency and couldn’t manage a sustained attack through four quarters of play. Skip Holtz’ gutsy play calling allowed the Bulls to convert on two main fourth down conversions, which resulted in two first-half touchdowns.
The Bulls’ defense spent a lot of time on the field due to the offensive troubles, and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took full advantage of the winded defense. He exploded in the second half and ended the day with 241 yards and three touchdowns.
South Florida had all the momentum heading into the locker room at halftime, but often a break from the action is all a team needs to regroup and regain their composure. Louisville did just that, taking a 20-17 lead late in the third quarter from an 18-yard touchdown pass to Josh Chichester.
Lindsey Lamar returned the ensuing kickoff 62-yards, followed by a 37-yard half-back option pass by Demetrius Murray to Deonte Welch to give the Bulls a 24-20 advantage.
After another unsuccessful drive for the offense, Justin Brockhaus Kohn kicked a 17-yard punt which later turned into another touchdown for Bridgewater, making it 27-24 in the fourth quarter.
USF had one last shot with 5:43 remaining , but Andre Davis fumbled the ball in USF territory which resulted in another touchdown for the Cardinals.
South Florida needs a win on Thursday against West Virginia to become bowl eligible, but even if that happens it won’t do a lot for the team’s pride. The season has been a huge disappointment for Holtz and the Bulls, but at this point there is no where to go but up.