Just after they destroyed the ninth-ranked team in the country, just after they drenched their coach with ice water, they raced to the north end zone to celebrate with the student section.
Some leaped into the crowd, others slapped hands with the students and everybody was smiling.
In all likelihood, they probably still are.
The Bulls (3-1, 1-0) pulled off the biggest win in the history of USF athletics with a 45-14 drubbing of conference preseason favorite Louisville.
When pretty much everybody expected it to be sour, USF’s first taste of the Big East was sweet.”It’s the best feeling ever,” said running back Andre Hall, who rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Hall’s roommate, first-year receiver Amarri Jackson, stole the show. His 57-yard catch in the first quarter set up a 1-yard Hall touchdown run.
In the second quarter, he scored on reverses of 51 and 12 yards, and in the third quarter he threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Derek Carter.
“He had a pretty good game, didn’t he?” coach Jim Leavitt said.
After Louisville nearly scored on the last play of the second half, there was a sense that the momentum was starting to swing in the Cardinals’ favor.
Then, redshirt freshman Chad Simpson erased that sense in about 13 seconds when he returned the second-half kickoff 94 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.
“We worked so hard practicing our kickoff returns,” Leavitt said.
USF’s defense proved it’s the real deal, forcing three turnovers while keeping Louisville’s high-powered offense out of sync with a barrage of blitzes.
“We did a good job, but there’s room for improvement – they got 14 points,” defensive back Johnnie Jones said.
USF now needs just three more wins to qualify for a bowl. And for the first time in program history, USF earned 7 votes in the Associated Press poll. Louisville, meanwhile, dropped 15 spots to No. 24.
The Bulls are tied for first place in the Big East.
“Consider us the favorites if you want to,” Hall said. “I know I do.”
USF now must prepare to face a No. 9-ranked team for the second game in a row when they travel to play Miami, which moved up three spots in the AP poll.
“I don’t think anyone in the world is giving us a chance,” Leavitt said. “And I don’t blame them.”
Whether chants of “OVERRATED” or “U-S-F, U-S-F,” echoed from the student section, Saturday’s crowd was probably the loudest to ever see the Bulls play.
What they witnessed on Saturday, according to USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard, was truly monumental.
“Winning a game like this certainly brings the University the kind of national recognition it deserves,” he said. “I don’t think anybody could have anticipated (a blowout), but I think they played well in every phase of the game.”