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May 12, 2010All eyes were on Tampa, Florida.
Eighth ranked Cincinnati was coming to town to take on the Bulls in a top 25 match up as USF was sitting at number 21 in the country after a 5-0 start. A game that was sure to have Big East implications, USF wanted to have all the support they could get to pull off they upset.
63,976 people showed up to Raymond James Stadium, the fourth largest attendance for a Big East mid-week game in conference history. But it wasn't enough.
South Florida would fall to the Bearcats 34-17 for their very first loss of the 2009 season, the fourth straight against Cincinnati.
Cincinnati back-up quarterback Zach Collaros stole the show in relief of injured senior starter Tony Pike who was forced to leave the game in the third quarter with a sprained wrist.
"The plate that's in there has shifted," head coach Brian Kelly Pike told the associated press.
Before his early exit, Pike did manage to throw for 140 yards and two touchdowns - both to Armon Binns.
Collaros did the most damage with his legs leading the Bearcats in rushing with 140 yards on 10 attempts and two touchdowns. One was a 75-yard sprint to the end zone in the third quarter.
When Collaros was forced to go to the air, he didn't have nearly the same success. The Bearcat signal caller completed four of seven passes for 72 yards, but tossed an interception to USF defender Nate Allen who returned the pick for 23 yards.
"He's a gamer. He's a competitive kid," Kelly said. "He's athletic, and we did what we had to do with him in the game, and that was obviously run him, control clock, play good defense and get out of here with a win." Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels didn't have the best of games for the home team despite racking up over 280 yards of total offense and leading the team in rushing.
Daniels completed 15 of 32 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown while throwing two interceptions. On the ground, the Tallahassee native accumulated 74 yards and found the end zone on one occasion.
Jessie Hester was the only pass receiver to register a touchdown - a 28-yard pass from Daniels in the first quarter that gave the Bulls their only lead of the evening.
Defensively, Kion Wilson and Jerome Murphy led the way for USF with eight tackles a piece. Murphy registered a total of four pass break ups on the night.
George Selvie accumulated six tackles, one sack for an 11-yard loss, and a total of two tackles for loss for 14 negative yards. Selvie also forced a fumble, one of two USF forced.
USF started both 2007 and 2008 with six and five game winning streaks, respectively, before falling apart somewhat. Head coach Jim Leavitt was determined not to let that happen this time around.
"I'm going to look at the film, tell them what they did right and what they did wrong ... and we'll move on," Leavitt said. "I don't have any other magical formula I can use."
It was only going to get increasingly difficult from here on out.
Up next was a road challenge against the University of Pittsburgh before returning home to take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia.
Talk about it on The Bullpen or El Toro Loco.