OPINION: USF vs. Houston takeaways

USF wide receiver Deangelo Antoine warms up before a game against Houston on Oct. 27. Antoine caught three passes for 40 yards and one touchdown in USF's 57-36 defeat. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

HOUSTON — USF football lost its first game of the season Saturday to No. 17 Houston 57-36 at TDECU Stadium in Houston. Here are some takeaways from the Bulls’ first loss since Black Friday 2017.

USF’s defense got torched

Houston gained 684 total yards, which is a new season-high allowed by USF’s defense. The 57 points is the most allowed in program history.

The Bulls’ secondary was absolutely lit-up by Cougars quarterback D’Eriq King, who threw for 419 yards and five touchdowns. King also rushed for two touchdowns, with a long rush of 47 yards.

Anytime a defense gives up that many yards and/or that many touchdowns, it’s usually not going to end well. Saturday was no exception to this rule.

Third down conversions are killer

Houston was 13-for-18 on third down conversions, with several of them coming on third and long situations. The Cougars were 2-for-2 on fourth down, as well.

For the sake of comparison, USF went 9-for-16 on third down on Saturday.

It’s cliche to say this, but defenses have to be able to get off the field on third down.

Another great day for Johnny Ford

Freshman running back Johnny Ford had another great day, rushing 16 times for 106 yard and two touchdowns, plus one that was called back in the third quarter due to a holding penalty.

The freshman is now up to 462 rushing yards on the season after not even being in the conversation for running backs during fall camp. After losing Elijah Mack and Duran Bell Jr. to injury, it’s been really encouraging to see Ford thrive in a next-man-up environment.

All is not lost yet

While the loss to Houston ends USF’s bid for an undefeated season, it does not end its bid for a conference championship.

With games remaining against the other remaining undefeated AAC teams, Temple and UCF, if the Bulls win out, they will at-worst tie with the one-loss teams in the AAC East. Since a USF team that wins out from here would own the head-to-head against those teams, the Bulls would win the division and then play the AAC West champion in the AAC championship game on Dec. 1.

In all likelihood, the AAC West champion is probably going to be these same Houston Cougars, which would mean the game would be played at TDECU Stadium rather than Raymond James Stadium. But, other than that, everything that was on the table for USF is still on the table, even after a loss.