MIAMI - Bowled over.
For the second straight year, the University of South Florida Bulls will not play in the postseason. That became official on Saturday — resoundingly — with USF’s 40-9 loss against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium.
After a season filled with narrow defeats, this one was rarely in doubt for the Bulls (3-7), who were beaten by a margin of 30 points or greater for the ninth time in the program’s 16-season history. It was the worst loss of coach Skip Holtz’s 35-game tenure at USF.
“Getting blown out like this definitely hurts,’’ said USF senior cornerback Kayvon Webster, a Miami native who had committed to the Hurricanes before switching to the Bulls in 2009. “All we can do is get back to work.’’
USF plays out the string with Friday night’s nationally televised contest at Cincinnati, then the Dec. 1 home finale against Pittsburgh.
UM (6-5) plays for the ACC Coastal Division title — and the right to face Florida State in the league’s title game — next Saturday at Duke. That is, if the school doesn’t forgo any postseason opportunities because of an NCAA probe into the school’s compliance practices.
Coming in, USF’s storyline was replacing senior quarterback B.J. Daniels, who was lost for the season with a broken ankle Nov. 3 against Connecticut. Holtz chose junior Bobby Eveld, who he had intended to redshirt, as a starter over redshirt freshman Matt Floyd, the season-long backup.
But Eveld lasted just 15 plays. He suffered a likely season-ending separated left shoulder after absorbing a first-quarter hit from UM linebacker Denzel Perryman. That left things for Floyd, who threw two interceptions in his first six pass attempts, but settled down to finish 20 of 35 for 175 yards.
USF’s quarterback shuffle wasn’t the game-deciding story, although the Bulls managed just three field goals against a UM defense ranked 88th nationally in scoring (31.2 points allowed per game).
It was USF’s defense — again.
The Bulls gave up 548 total yards — the third time this season they were torched for 500 yards or greater. UM’s Stephen Morris was 21 of 32 for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
For the first time in USF history, the Bulls surrendered 100-yard receiving performances to three different players (Phillip Dorsett, Herb Waters and Clive Walford) in one game.
After allowing a long pass play of 47 yards in the season’s first nine games, USF defense was beaten on throws of 34, 36, 87, 65 and 37 by a UM receiving corps depleted by injuries.
“I don’t think it looked that good; I thought it was poor, I thought it was bad,’’ Holtz said of USF’s pass defense. “We tried to play a lot of different players on the back end. It was a very poor display of secondary play. I wish I had an excuse. I wish I could tell you why it was as bad as it was.”
USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said Morris’ pocket mobility added a difficult dimension.
“There were a tremendous amount of big plays, big-chunk plays, at times when we were ahead of the chains (with third-and-long situations),” Cosh said.
USF trailed 16-3 at halftime, but UM countered with three unanswered touchdowns, stretching to a 34-point margin. Floyd held up pretty well, avoiding sacks and mistakes after his two early picks. But his supporting cast didn’t offer much. There were a half-dozen dropped passes (at least).
“I don’t think Matt got a whole lot of help from the receivers,” Holtz said. “He got exactly what he threw for. It’s not like we made extra yards or made a circus catch. He earned what he got.
“I think with the number of receivers who were out (with injuries) right now, how far we’ve gone down the line, we are not good enough around those young quarterbacks right now, for them to be efficient enough. We certainly weren’t good enough tonight.”
USF's bowl hopes vanish with rout at Miami