In the 1st quarter of Saturday’s game it looked like USF would give a ranked opponent a run for their money for the 2nd week in a row. That 1st quarter would prove to be fool’s gold. The Bulls jumped out to a lead on their very 1st drive. The Bulls then intercepted Brady White twice early on, but they could only turn those turnovers into 3 points. Memphis took their 1st lead halfway through the 2nd quarter and never looked back. The Tigers running game was the catalyst in the turnaround. Kenneth Gainwell led things yardage wise and Patrick Clark Jr. added 3 touchdowns in a 49-10 victory for Memphis. The loss officially eliminates the Bulls from bowl contention while Memphis will face Cincinnati in a possible AAC title game preview on Friday afternoon.
The Bulls came out inspired for the 2nd week in a row against a ranked opponent. The forced a quick Memphis punt and then took off on a drive of their own. Kelley Joiner did most of the leg work to get the Bulls in scoring position, and then Dave Small punched in a touchdown run to give USF an early lead. The high-powered Memphis offense finally got things going on their 3rd possession. They needed a 4th and 2 conversion to keep the drive going. They got it and Patrick Taylor ran it in from 3 yards out to tie the game up. The next big play came on the defensive side of the ball for USF. Brady White was way off the mark on a deep pass and KJ Sails was able to take advantage of that. He intercepted the pass and took it back 40 yards to set his offense up with great field position near the Memphis redzone. Jordan McCloud took a few shots at the endzone, but couldn’t connect. The Bulls had to settle for a field goal and it was Coby Weiss who went out there instead of Spencer Shrader after his rough outing last week. The junior was good from 37 yards out to put his team back in front.
White’s rough afternoon would continue on the next Memphis possession. He had his team rolling and in the USF redzone, but he made another mistake. This time it was Daquan Evans who made the interception and took it back 52 yards to give his team good field position in Memphis territory. The offense was able to move into field goal range, but Coby Weiss was unable to connect on his 2nd field goal attempt of the game and the lead stood pat at 3. Memphis was able to take advantage of that USF missed opportunity. The Tigers drove it 74 yards in just over 3 minutes. It was Clark’s 2nd touchdown run of the game that would put Memphis on top, 14-10. The momentum really shifted on the next drive for the Tigers. A bad snap had Memphis in a 2nd and 38 situation. 2 plays later the Tigers were in the endzone. White connected with Kedarian Jones on a 50-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulls down 2 scores. The Tigers weren’t done there. They added even more insurance on a White to Damonte Coxie with 5 seconds remaining in the half.
The opening drive of the 2nd half looked promising for USF. Jordan McCloud found Eddie McDoom for a 32 yard completion that would get things into Memphis territory. After that the drive stalled. Charlie Strong kept the offense out there on 4th and 8, but McCloud’s pass would be incomplete. After that drive the Bulls made a change at quarterback and went to Kirk Rygol. The offense couldn’t get anything going on his 1st possession and had to punt it away. The running attack of Memphis continued to shine on the ensuing possession. Even the wide receivers would get in on the action. Antonio Gibson lined up in the backfield and took a handoff 18 yards to make it a 35-10 ballgame. On the next Memphis possession Taylor’s big night continued. His 3rd rushing touchdown of the game extended the lead to 42-10.
The Memphis run game continued to roll even with the backups in the game. Connor Addair stepped in at QB and took off on a long touchdown run as the Tigers approached 300 rushing yards on the night.
The Bulls will face their biggest rivals next week to close out the season. USF will head East to Spectrum Stadium to face UCF. The game will once again go down on Black Friday, but this year it will be a primetime affair with an 8 pm kickoff. You will hear all the action from the War on I4 right here on 95.3 WDAE and AM 620.