The Bulls had a chance to make another statement in terms of how college football panned out in Florida.
Instead, it was Miami that staked its point.
The 17th-ranked Hurricanes (9-3) rushed for 240 yards and trounced USF (7-4) 31-10 in front of announced crowd 66,469 at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday to spoil the Bulls’ senior day.
“We’ve got work to do,” said USF coach Jim Leavitt, who led the Bulls to a 17-7 win over Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in late September. “We’re not there yet.”
The Hurricanes, who clinched their first nine win season since 2005, scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions and held the Bulls to a lone field goal in the first half.
Miami could not have started any better, as sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris led an 81-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson.
And on two of the following three possessions, running back Javarris James had rushing scores of 5 and 2 yards. Junior Damien Berry finished with game-high 114 yards on 12 carries as well.
“My worst nightmare came true,” Leavitt said. “They moved us off the ball and ran the ball pretty effectively on us.”
Harris was effective as well, throwing for two scores and no interceptions.
USF’s offense, which was held to 98 yards in the first half, finally got a spark from Daniels early in the third quarter when he connected with junior wide receiver A.J. Love in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown to cut Miami’s lead to 21-10.
The little momentum USF had after Love’s score diminished, though, as Harris found tight end Dedrick Epps for a 33-yard touchdown to give Miami a 28-10 lead late in the third quarter. The Hurricanes continued to pound the ball on the ground and added a 32-yard field goal in the fourth.
After 445 total yards of offense against Louisville a week ago, USF quarterback B.J. Daniels only finished 6-of-16 passing and 77 yards, while adding an interception and a fumble lost.
“We really couldn’t get going,” Daniels said. “There were a lot of opportunities we could’ve taken advantage of but we didn’t.”
After the win at Florida State, which many regarded as the best in school history, there were talks of USF entering the state’s “Big Three.” However, Leavitt downplayed that discussion.
“We’re in the hunt,” Leavitt said. “I don’t know if there are many people that would have said ‘hey, they’re going to beat FSU and Miami this year. If they did … That’s pretty neat stuff.”