Darius Tice rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns as No. 21 South Florida dominated defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple 43-7 on Thursday night for its school-record ninth consecutive victory.
The Bulls (4-0) have not lost since falling by 16 points to Temple last October in Philadelphia — a setback that wound up costing them a berth in the AAC championship game.
Tice scored on runs of 47 and 3 yards. Quinton Flowers, coming off accounting for 386 yards and five TDs in a 24-point blowout of Illinois, also ran for two touchdowns to take sole possession of first place on the Bulls’ career rushing TD list with 34.
USF’s defense, meanwhile, forced six turnovers, including the first three interceptions of the season thrown by Temple’s Logan Marchi.
The Owls (2-2) were held to minus-4 yards net rushing and were outgained 408 yards to 85. Marchi threw for 767 yards, five TDs and no interceptions in his first three starts for Temple, but was just 3 of 13 for 32 yards on Thursday night.
Defensive end Jacob Martin scored Temple’s only touchdown, sacking Flowers and forcing a fumble that the defensive end returned 44 yards in the second quarter.
The teams have developed a little bit of a rivalry over the past three seasons. USF knocked off the then-No. 21 Owls 44-23 in Tampa two years ago and Ryquell Armstead rushed for 210 yards and two TDs to key Temple’s 46-30 victory in Philadelphia last October.
Both teams finished 7-1 in league play, with the Owls representing the Eastern Division in the AAC championship game for the second straight year under former coach Matt Rhule, who left for Baylor in December.
Less than a week later, Charlie Strong — fired at Texas after three seven-loss seasons — landed at USF, which lost former coach Willie Taggart to Oregon.
Strong inherited a team that won a school-record 11 games and has the Bulls off to their first 4-0 start since 2011.
Temple: The Owls have lopsided losses to Notre Dame and USF wrapped around close wins over Villanova and Massachusetts. The defense has been vulnerable to both the run and pass. Offensively, first-year coach Geoff Collins has to get Marchi and Armstead, who gained 3 yards on 11 carries Thursday night, back on track.
South Florida: Flowers is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, however the Bulls are hardly a one-man show on offense. What’s becoming clear as the season progresses, though, is a much-improved defense has a chance to make this a truly special year for USF, which has never won a conference championship.
Playing two consecutive week-night games on national television has given USF some much appreciated attention, however it remains to be seen how much of a difference it makes in the next AP poll. The Bulls climbed one spot after last week’s dominant performance against Illinois, and it’s difficult to imagine them climbing much higher solely on their rout of Temple.
Temple: Conference home opener against Houston a week from Saturday.
South Florida: Play a Saturday game for the first time in four weeks, traveling to East Carolina for conference road opener on Sept. 30.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.