Returning to Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, the Bulls won 27-23 against Temple, bringing them one game closer to bowl eligibility.
USF’s (5-5, 3-3 AAC) last bowl appearance was in 2018.
Junior defensive end Tramel Logan, who recorded the first pick-six for USF since 2021, said the Bulls’ strong drive this season is what has brought them this far.
“It’s been very important for us because we know it’s in our control. We’re happy to see it finally paying off,” Logan said.
Despite this being a record-breaking game for some players, Bulls coach Alex Golesh said the team’s performance was sloppy.
“It’s a really ugly win, but it’s a win so we’ll take it,” Golesh said.
Here are some additional takeaways from their win over the Owls (3-7, 1-5 AAC).
Defense looks rejuvenated
After giving a program-record 59 points to Memphis last week, USF sought to make a turnaround defensively.
Memphis marked the third game of the season where the Bulls lost over 50 points to an opponent.
In this game, however, the defense had an overall better performance than in recent weeks. USF forced three turnovers and limited the Owls to 23 points.
Junior defensive back Aamaris Brown had two of the team’s three interceptions during Saturday’s game.
USF’s defense scored seven of the 27 points from Logan’s 22-yard interception.
Golesh said the defense’s performance in the second quarter helped stall the Owls’ momentum.
“The whole second quarter was [USF’s] defense stopping [Temple] and our offense stopping ourselves,” Golesh said. “Our defense forcing [Temple] to miss the extra points was huge. You play the end of the game differently that way.”
USF’s inconsistent offense could spoil future wins
South Florida had a fiery start in the first quarter but lost its spark as the game progressed.
Golesh has mentioned throughout the year that he wants USF to start the game with high offensive pressure.
For the past three weeks, USF has not been able to score points in its opening drives.
That streak was broken against Temple when redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown scored a seven-yard touchdown on its first drive.
A 41-yard field goal and junior wide receiver Khafre Brown’s touchdown gave the Bulls a 17-point lead over the Owls by the end of the first quarter.
The offense totaled 224 yards in the opening frame, but this momentum didn’t carry into the rest of the game.
The Bulls had 227 yards in the final three quarters combined, only three more than the first quarter alone.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown, who had his fourth 300-yard game this season, said starting quick was helpful, but the small mistakes almost cost them the game.
“It’s great to start fast and we were preaching that all week,” Brown said. “But you have to finish strong as well.”
Golesh said the offense cannot be making these simple mistakes this far into the season.
“When you have  yards resulting in 27 points and seven of those are defensive, it’s not good enough,” Golesh said. “We had several false starts [and] misalignments. It shouldn’t be happening.”
Atkins’ consistency highlighted in record-breaking performance
A highlighted player in Saturday’s match was junior wide receiver Sean Atkins.
Atkins recorded nine catches against Temple making it a career-high of 169 total yards in a game.
This led him to break an eight-year program record for most single receptions in a season with 69, two more than former record-holder Rodney Adams.
Atkins has been a consistent offensive player all season long. He has made at least four catches in each of the ten games, making him a threat to USF’s opponents.
Although Atkins’ name is now signed in the USF football record book, he said that doesn’t change the principles of who he is.
“I wouldn’t want to be viewed any different,” Atkins said. “Being a record holder is just something that is added onto the resume.”
Veteran Bulls’ players take pride in competing in meaningful games
USF only clinched one win the entire season last year, making it one of the worst performances in program history.
This year, Temple marks the team’s fifth win of the season.
Returning players have recognized this change from last year and said the subtle wins are making them optimistic about how the last two games will pan out.
With a potential Bowl game right around the corner, junior defensive back Aamaris Brown said the Bulls’ progression this year has helped them endure the season’s adversities.
“Last year, every game had [us] beaten down,” Brown said. “Coming into this season, a 5-5 record is not what we want but it’s better than what we did [have]. As a team, we keep pride in taking those steps forward, one day at a time.”