COLUMBIA, S.C. –USF went up to South Carolina and found out it has a long way to go before its ready for Bowl Championship Series football.
The Bulls were dominated in every phase of the game Saturday, losing 34-3 in their fourth loss to a Southeastern Conference team in four tries.
With backup quarterback Syvelle Newton in the game, South Carolina picked apart USF’s defense right from the beginning, scoring 55- and 56-yard passing plays in the first half. It got out of hand in the second half. The Gamecocks continued to lay it on the Bulls, adding passes of 73 and 45 yards.
USC receiver Troy Williamson had a career night, leading the Gamecocks with three touchdowns and 210 receiving yards. His three touchdowns are the most a USF defense has yielded to a receiver.
While the Gamecocks pounded the football when they had possession, turnovers and penalties subdued a Bulls offense that couldn’t seem to get anything going. USF’s eight penalties for 57 yards were more than leading rusher Clenton Crossley’s 44 yards.
“We just keep killing ourselves,” center Alex Herron said. “We can’t win a game if we don’t score (touchdowns). We can’t win a game if we turn the ball over, if we keep getting penalties. We kill ourselves not being a very smart football team. It’s something we have to fix or it’s going to be a very long season.”
The defense was expected to keep USF in the game if the offense faltered, but that was not the case.
Newton picked apart an inexperienced USF secondary all night long.
“Our pass defense in the second half really bothered me,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said. “They started throwing at will almost anywhere. That really frustrated me.”
On the first drive of the game, it looked like the Bulls would prevent USC from getting a first down after three stops. But on the Gamecocks’ punt a roughing-the-kicker call gave USC a first down. On the next play, Newton found Williamson bolting down the sideline with a few steps on cornerback Trae Williams for a 56-yard score. Later Williamson, who quickly became Newton’s favorite target, beat D’Juan Brown on a 55-yard touchdown play.
The Bulls’ offense looked just as bad. It managed only 191 yards and couldn’t get further than USC’s 26-yard line. Ronnie Banks was replaced by Pat Julmiste in the third quarter but it was more of the same.
Julmiste, wearing a brace on his knee, completed 2 of 10 passes for seven yards.
“We weren’t very good at all,” quarterback coach Rod Smith said. “We’re not consistent, not accurate enough, just no production right now. We need more from that unit. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
In only the fifth time in history they haven’t scored a touchdown, the Bulls enter conference play having not scored a touchdown in six quarters.
Lou Holtz and USC seemed to have it all figured out after the win.
“Part of our culture is how you handle winning and losing and how you conduct yourself,” Holtz said. “We’ve got a ways to go. I’m very proud of this football team. The way we worked, hung together, persevered.”
Santiago Gramatica’s career-long 47-yard field goal to close the first half was all the scoring USF could muster.
USC’s Josh Brown had field goals from 32 and 22 yards out.
Cory Boyd’s 14-yard run in the third quarter put the Gamecocks up 27-3. Newton to Williamson on a 74-yard touchdown play ended all scoring.