Finally, USF played a complete game on the offensive side of the ball.
Whether it was having a week off or the added importance of playing a power-5 opponent in a primetime ESPN game, the Bulls everybody expected in the preseason arrived in full force in week three.
Grabbing three interceptions and having 680 yards of total offense against a Big Ten opponent, even a bottom-feeder like Illinois, is no easy task, but the Bulls achieved it comfortably Friday.
To put this in perspective, the last time the Fighting Illini gave up 600 yards of total offense was in 2013 against Indiana.
Despite Illinois facing superior opponents in the Big Ten such as Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State in the past four years, not a single one of them put up as many yards as USF.
Regardless of what happened to USF in its first two lackluster games, the Bulls are 3-0 and in a prime position to earn a New Year's six bowl bid if they continue to win.
To keep on the winning track against tougher competition moving forward, however, they’ll need to let quarterback Quinton Flowers improvise and run free as he did Friday.
To go along with tying the program record for first downs in a game with 31, Flowers rushed for 106 yards and a TD. Through the air, Flowers threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers, including D’Ernest Johnson (5 receiving TD’s in 2016) who made his first receptions of the year on broken plays where Flowers improvised.
On the final play of the first half, Flowers dropped back to pass, surveyed the field and found nobody open. Opposed to weeks one and two where Flowers would’ve thrown the ball away, he scrambled and dove into the end zone for a 9-yard TD. Plays like this only happen if Flowers is given the freedom to make decisions on the fly.
While the offense was a flashback to the 2016 season for USF fans, the defense proved for the third consecutive game in 2017 that they’re the real deal.
With the most glaring issue being the kicking game (4 blocked kicks so far in 2017), the Bulls aren’t perfect, but Friday they showed that they’re more than ready to make a run at their first conference championship.