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College Gridiron 365

Weathering the Storm: USF Bulls Stun #10 Alabama in Unexpected Battle

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

A drenching rain doused Nick Saban and the Alabama players during their game against USF, resulting in a delay due to the weather. On Saturday, Alabama football held a 17-3 victory over South Florida away from home, though it was not one of Nick Saban’s most attractive games as head coach of the Crimson Tide they were able to secure the win against our home favorites; but not without a fight!

USF showcased their top-tier performance with an impressive defensive front, led by the exceptional efforts of Evans (#0) in defending against the run. Their entire offensive line also displayed remarkable skills. Alabama, expecting an easy victory, found themselves perplexed in a game that ultimately resulted in a fair contest for the USF Bulls.

 

Alabama Did Not Play Well

The Alabama team had the capability to beat its opponent with ease. The Bulls had only won a single game in the previous season and were under the instruction of a new head coach, Alex Golesh, at the time. Alabama was confident they would dominate South Florida, however, the result was not as expected. The match was far from aesthetically pleasing. Neither side was able to register a touchdown until after halftime. For the majority of the game, Alabama appeared to be in dire straits. Whether it was sacks from four-man rushes, costly penalties, poor tackling of USF QB Byrum Brown, or any of the other issues, the Crimson Tide did not seem to have the capability to meet the expectations of their fans. The defensive unit outperformed the offensive unit, getting to the quarterback and making plays. However, James Burnip, the punter, was the most impressive player of the game. Some of Buchner’s inaccurately-timed throws, penalties that weren’t well-executed, and inadequate blocking all culminated to create a major problem of sloppiness. Neither Simpson nor Bunchner (Alabama Backup QBs)  were able to really move the ball. Brings into question if removing Jalen Milroe, Alabama’s starting QB for the season was a smart idea. I’d expect a major switch-up for Alabama games against SEC giant Ole Miss.

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USF Bulls Went the Distance

The Bulls’ defense delivered a standout performance that could be considered their strongest in years, marked by several remarkable achievements. They recorded an impressive total of five sacks, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since 2019. Additionally, they forced the Crimson Tide to punt the ball eight times, an indicator of their dominance on the field. Most notably, they managed to limit the Crimson Tide’s offensive production to just 310 yards, a figure that had not been seen since their match against Mississippi State the previous season.

One standout player in this defensive showcase was safety Daquan Evans, who had an exceptional day. Evans tallied an impressive eight tackles, showcased his prowess with four tackles for loss, and recorded three crucial sacks. His outstanding performance epitomized the aggressive and relentless effort put forth by the entire Bulls’ defense. This effort was further exemplified by linebacker Jhalyn Shuler, safety Jaelen Stokes, and safety Logan Berryhill, all of whom achieved career-best tackle totals, with 11, 8, and 7 tackles, respectively.

On the offensive front, quarterback Byrum Brown came tantalizingly close to achieving his third career 100-yard rushing game, ultimately accumulating an impressive 92 rushing yards on 23 carries to lead the charge for USF. Additionally, running back Nay’Quan Wright made a significant contribution with 62 rushing yards, highlighted by a powerful run early in the game that flattened an Alabama defender, setting a tone of determination and resilience for the Bulls.

Bulls Rage On

In summary, while Alabama may have won the game, it was the USF Bulls who showcased resilience, outstanding defense, and an unwavering spirit. The game provided valuable lessons for both teams as they continue their respective seasons. It will be interesting to see how they will progress after this strong performance. USF’s next opponent is Rice on September 23rd who are coming off of a 59-7 win against TX Southern.

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College Gridiron 365

Kansas State Triumphs 28-19 Over NC State in Pop-Tarts Bowl Clash

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

Kansas State emerges victorious with a 28-19 win over NC State in the highly anticipated Pop-Tarts Bowl, setting Orlando abuzz with excitement.

Despite a valiant effort in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on Thursday night, the Wolfpack fell short in overcoming an early deficit, succumbing to Kansas State with a final score of 28-19.

The Wolfpack concludes their season with a 9-4 record, narrowly missing the chance to etch their name in school history with only the second 10-win campaign. The elusive feat was last achieved in 2002 with Philip Rivers at the helm, guiding the team to an impressive 11-3 record.

Facing the challenge without their All-America linebacker Payton Wilson, who opted to sit out the game in preparation for the draft, the No. 19 NC State struggled to contain the running game early on. The Pack found themselves in a tough spot as Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson connected with DJ Giddens for a 37-yard score on fourth down, establishing a 7-0 lead.

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With Wilson absent from the lineup, Kansas State exploited the gap, amassing 258 yards on the ground, with Giddens contributing 151 yards. Despite NC State quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s 31-yard touchdown run against Kansas State on Thursday night, the Wolfpack was unable to seize control, never holding an advantage and only narrowing the gap to a two-point margin.

At the close of the second quarter, Kansas State maintained a lead of 21-7, with the halftime score standing at 21-10. NC State injected some intrigue into the game in the third quarter with a bit of trickery. Trent Pennix’s 60-yard touchdown run off a fake punt reduced the deficit to 21-19 with 1:50 left in the period.

The Wolfpack’s attempt to level the score was thwarted as Armstrong was taken down during the two-point conversion attempt. In his inaugural game as a freshman, quarterback Johnson, stepping in after Will Howard’s departure, threw for 178 yards, ran for an additional 71 yards, and orchestrated a decisive 15-play, 72-yard drive in the fourth quarter.

The game-clinching moment came as Jayce Brown secured an 8-yard TD pass from Johnson with a mere 2:48 left on the clock. Any hopes of a Wolfpack comeback were dashed when Parrish intercepted Armstrong on their subsequent offensive play.

Armstrong’s performance in the final game included running for 121 yards, scoring one touchdown, and passing for 164 yards. The Wildcats of Kansas State concluded the season with a commendable 9-4 record.

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College Gridiron 365

USF Bulls Secure Bowl Glory: Crush Syracuse 45-0

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In a spectacular display of prowess, the USF football team, under first-year head coach Alex Golesh, ended its season on a high note with a resounding 45-0 victory over Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl. The win marked USF’s first bowl victory since 2017 and a significant turnaround, securing a winning record for the first time since 2018.

The Bulls’ defense played a pivotal role in the triumph, forcing four turnovers, including two scoop-and-score touchdowns, and orchestrating their first complete game shutout since 2009. Defensive MVP Daquan Evans led the charge with five tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble returned for a touchdown. Special Teams MVP Aamaris Brown-Bunkley contributed by returning a botched field goal attempt for a touchdown and adding three tackles.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown, named Offensive MVP, delivered a stellar performance, completing 19 of 26 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Brown also showcased his versatility by rushing for a team-best 64 yards on 14 carries and even catching a 21-yard pass from Sean Atkins. Brown became only the second Bull to surpass 4,000 total yards in a season, finishing with 4,101 yards.

Atkins, the Bulls’ first 1,000-yard receiver, secured six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulls’ offensive prowess propelled them to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Brown’s connection with Atkins and a 31-yard touchdown pass to Khafre Brown highlighted the offensive dominance. John Cannon’s 40-yard field goal further extended the lead to 24-0.

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The defense continued its relentless performance, with Evans forcing another fumble, and Tramel Logan returning it 61 yards for a touchdown, making it 31-0 at halftime. USF’s defense held Syracuse to just 159 yards, 10 punts, and a mere nine first downs throughout the game, limiting them to 1-of-17 on third downs.

The second half saw Tavin Ward intercepting Syracuse’s first possession, setting up Brown for a 35-yard touchdown pass to Atkins, further widening the gap to 38-0. Nay’Quan Wright’s two-yard touchdown plunge in the early fourth quarter sealed the deal at 45-0.

The victory marked USF’s largest margin of victory in a bowl game and its fourth bowl win against an autonomous “power” conference program. The Bulls outgained Syracuse 407 to 159, with notable individual achievements from Brown, Atkins, and Logan.

Looking ahead, USF has already welcomed 25 new recruits on the first day of the NCAA Early Signing period, securing a top-class ranking in The American and among non-autonomous “power” programs. The Bulls will shift their focus to spring practice in March, building on the momentum gained from their outstanding Boca Raton Bowl triumph.

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College Gridiron 365

USF Bulls Secure Bowl Berth with Dominant Victory Over Charlotte

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In a triumphant display on Senior Night at Raymond James Stadium, the USF football team (6-6; 4-4 American) punched their ticket to the postseason, securing a resounding 48-14 victory over Charlotte (3-9; 2-6 American). The Bulls celebrated not only the achievements of 16 seniors but also the program’s 11th bowl berth, marking the end of a drought since 2018.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown led the charge with another stellar performance, throwing for 253 yards and four touchdowns. Brown’s remarkable day also included 43 yards rushing and a touchdown, making him the first Bull to surpass 3,000 passing yards in a season, with his 2023 total reaching an impressive 3,078.

A standout throughout the season, wide receiver Sean Atkins continued his impressive run, logging his seventh-straight game with seven or more receptions. Atkins made seven grabs for 61 yards and a touchdown. Notably, he also showcased his versatility by throwing a 62-yard touchdown pass, becoming the first Bull since 1998 to both catch and throw a touchdown in a single game.

Running back Michel Dukes contributed significantly to the offensive prowess, running for a career-best 104 yards on 15 carries. The Bulls’ offensive excellence was complemented by a robust defensive effort that saw Logan Berryhill securing his third interception of the season, while Mac Harris and Daquan Evans notched their first interceptions.

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Jhalyn Shuler and D.J. Harris led the defensive charge with nine tackles each, playing a crucial role in holding Charlotte to less than 300 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers.

The turning point in the game came just 20 seconds into the second half when Brown connected with Jaden Alexis on a deep pass. Alexis, in a spectacular display of skill, spun his defender around and zigzagged for a 60-yard touchdown, giving USF a commanding 28-7 lead.

Although Charlotte managed a response with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jairus Mack, the Bulls remained undeterred. Brown orchestrated a drive resulting in a field goal and followed it up with a daring onside kick, which USF successfully recovered at their own 46. Brown then capped off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 38-14.

As the Bulls continued to dominate, John Cannon added his second field goal of the day, and USF entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 41-14 lead. The victory marked a five-win turnaround from the previous year, the largest in program history, and a return to the bowl season for the Bulls.

Reflecting on the game and the historic season turnaround, USF fans began to celebrate a bright future for their football program. The Bulls now eagerly await the official announcement of their bowl destination on December 3, savoring the prospect of postseason action for the first time in five seasons.

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