12:00 PM ET, November 19, 2005
Raymond James Stadium, TAMPA, FL
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Surprising South Florida likes being perceived as a team that nobody wants in the BCS.
"We feed off that," reserve cornerback D'Juan Brown said Saturday after returning an interception for a touchdown to help the Bulls beat Cincinnati 31-16 for their third straight Big East win.
"I kind of like coming in as an underdog and just getting it done. ... There's no stopping us right now."
Big East rushing leader Andre Hall went over 1,000 yards for the season and scored his 15th touchdown, and USF (6-3, 4-1) forced two third-quarter turnovers to transform a close game into a rout.
In addition to becoming bowl eligible with its sixth victory, USF stayed on course for a possible showdown with No. 13 West Virginia for the Big East's automatic spot in the lucrative Bowl Championship Series.
If the Bulls win at Connecticut next Saturday and defeat West Virginia at home on Dec. 3, USF would be assured of at least a tie for the conference title and represent the league in the BCS.
"That'll mess up the nation for a little bit," Hall said. "That's what I want to do."
Brown returned his interception 26 yards for a TD that made it 17-7 midway through the third quarter. Four minutes later, Cincinnati quarterback Dustin Grutza fumbled at his own 22 to leave the Bulls in position to take a commanding lead.
Receiver Amarri Jackson, the star of the 45-14 upset of Louisville that opened BCS possibilities for the Bulls in September, scored on the next play after mishandling a handoff on a reverse.
Jackson picked up the ball on the bounce and headed around right end before cutting back to the left and weaving his way through the Cincinnati defense for his third rushing TD of the season.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third in USF's defeat of then-No. 9 Louisville.
A week after rushing for 222 yards and three TDs in a 27-0 shutout at Syracuse, Hall ran for 100 on 29 carries against Cincinnati (4-6, 2-4), which angered the running back last season by continuing to throw the ball late in a lopsided victory over the Bulls.
Hall expressed his dislike for the Bearcats in pre-game interviews and said he'd liked to run up the score if USF got a chance Saturday.
It didn't happen.
Pat Julmiste put USF up 31-7 with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. The Bulls kept moving the ball, but couldn't get into the end zone again.
"USF's a good football team. We were hanging with them," Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio said. "We just have to find a way to get over the hump."
USF coach Jim Leavitt tried to play down the significance of being bowl eligible in the Bulls' first season in the Big East.
"If we're bowl eligible, it doesn't mean we're going to a bowl game. We've got six wins," Leavitt said.
"We've been bowl eligible in this program. This is about our third time. When we were an independent we were bowl eligible, so it's nothing new for us. But that's not where our drive is."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||1-11||8-19|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||2-2|
|FG||4:38||KYLE BRONSON 25 YD FG|
Drive info: 16 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||10:33||ANDRE HALL 1 YD RUN (KYLE BRONSON KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||1:13||DOMINICK GOODMAN 25 YD PASS FROM DUSTIN GRUTZA (KEVIN LOVELL KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||8:02||D'JUAN BROWN 26 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (KYLE BRONSON KICK)||7||17|
|TD||3:48||AMARRI JACKSON 22 YD RUN (KYLE BRONSON KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 22 yards.
|TD||10:59||PAT JULMISTE 1 YD RUN (KYLE BRONSON KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||9:40||BUTLER BENTON 6 YD PASS FROM DUSTIN GRUTZA (FAILED 2PT PASS)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||2:07||KEVIN LOVELL 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 85 yards.