Going into Saturday afternoon's game against the seventh-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the USF Bulls were hoping to be competitive, seeing as the Irish were favored by 25 and a half points prior to kickoff. If the Bulls had those points, they still would have needed 27 to win, as the Bulls were routed by Notre Dame, 52-0 in South Bend, Indiana.
Things didn't start very well for the Bulls, as Notre Dame won the opening coin toss, and elected to take the ball. It only took 2:55 for the Irish to collect the winning score, as Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book completed a seven-play 54-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Things would only get worse for the Bulls from there, as special teams miscues and an inability to get going on offense put the Bulls behind the eight-ball for the rest of the first half.
In fact, the Irish did not punt until there were only 25 seconds left in the third quarter, ahead 45-0.
Book ran for two more scores, the last coming on a one-yard plunge, to put the Irish up 35-0 with 1:55 remaining in the first half.
Notre Dame thoroughly outplayed the Bulls in the first half, and it showed in many statistical categories. The Irish held an 18:39 to 11:21 edge in time of possession, a 15-1 domination in first downs, and outgained the Bulls 279-65. The lone first down and 42 of those yards for the Bulls came on a run by Johnny Ford after the Irish already were up 14-0. The Bulls had five three-and-outs in the first half.
USF also suffered from a host of miscues on the punt team, as several snaps to punter Trent Schneider (and his replacement, Kenny Scribner, as Schneider was injured and did not return after one of those punt attempts) were high or even went over the punters' heads; on one of those miscues, Scribner's attempt to punt was blocked by Osita Ekonwu, and returned for a third-quarter touchdown by Jordan Botelho, making the score 45-0.
The Bulls were a little more competitive in the second half, sustaining two drives of more than 10 plays, with both of those drives ending on downs.
In all, the Bulls were outgained 429-231, and closed the gap in time of possession, having held the ball for 27:33, but could not get any points on the scoreboard. The Irish had 281 yards on the ground, as the large halftime lead dictated Notre Dame's rushing offense in the second half.
Notre Dame running back C'Bo Flemister led the game with 13 carries for 127 yards, while Johnny Ford led the Bulls with 70 yards on six carries. USF quarterback Jordan McCloud was 8-for-14 for 64 yards passing and finished with five rushes for 21 yards.
Up next for the Bulls is a trip to Boca Raton on Saturday, Sept. 26 to face former coach Willie Taggart and the Florida Atlantic Owls. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Video Courtesy: Notre Dame Athletics