The wildest season in USF history continued in Dallas Saturday night with another close victory.
For the high-scoring, high-scoring-against Bulls, the 35-27 victory over SMU was the team’s third straight narrow victory (after touchdown wins against Navy and Memphis). The win allowed USF to go to 9-2, which ties a school record for victories.
USF still has a shot at the American Conference game if it can beat UCF next week and have Eastern Carolina upset Temple.
The Mustangs had their way against USF for most of the night, gaining 578 yards to USF’s 473. SMU kept the ball for 36:11; USF had it only 23:49.
The game came down to a fourth and one at the USF 16 when Braeden West was stopped for no gain by Auggie Sanchez.
“It’s two weeks in a row, where they stepped up big for us, and that’s good to see,” coach Willie Taggart said. Getting those takeaways was great for our guys. I’m really proud of those guys stepping up for us once again.
“Once again, we needed a defense stand and they stood up. Deatrick Nichols came over to me and said, ‘We got you, coach.’ ”
USF made up for the difference with quick strikes. Three times on the night, the Bulls had one-yard drives for touchdowns.
The Mustangs clearly tried to limit Quinton Flowers’ impact on the game. Still, Flowers ended with 142 yards rushing. Passing, he threw for three touchdowns. But SMU stayed close as quarterback Ben Hicks threw for 280 yards. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton caught 13 passes for 252 yards.
For SMU, West had 120 yards rushing.
Flowers had 142 yards rushing and Marlon Mack had 129. Receiver Tyre McCants caught three passes for 105 yards and two scores.
For USF, two streaks continued. One, the team has scored at least 30 points in every game this year. Two, it’s given up at least 20 in every game but Northern Illinois.
USF is home Saturday against UCF.