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May 6, 2010

2009 season review: USF vs. Florida State

Over 12,000 dressed in green and gold made their way north to the Florida's capitol to see their beloved Bulls take on perennial in-state powerhouse Florida State on September 26th.

The Seminoles, hot off a demolition job over a ranked BYU team in Utah, finally looked headed in the right direction. And the Bulls didn't have their leader in Matt Grothe.

It didn't look like a game the Bulls had much of a chance to win - but somebody forgot to tell them that.

If there was any question whether or not South Florida was up for this one, it was answered in the second quarter.

The Seminoles had finally put together one of their signature would-be touchdown drives. The Bulls stiffened up, wore their pride on their sleeves, and denied the Seminoles from crossing the goal line on four straight snaps.

"Yeah that told us the story right there that they meant business," said Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. "Gosh, what did we have, first and goal at the three and didn't get in."

What happened next was the ultimate turnaround and perhaps a change in momentum so large, that the Seminoles could never recover.

B.J. Daniels, starting in a homecoming of sorts, launched a 77-yard completion to Theo Wilson setting up an eight-yard touchdown pass to Ben Busbee to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish.

Later in the same quarter, it was Daniels again that stepped up finding Sterling Griffin streaking wide open down the field for a 73-yard touchdown pass making the lead 14.

"It's a great story, a quarterback coming back home," Leavitt told the Associated Press. "Those things don't happen all the time, but it did today. It did today."

"It feels good playing in front of your friends and your family," Daniels added. "I was very familiar with the people around so I definitely felt comfortable and it wasn't anything to get me nervous."

It wasn't that Florida State couldn't move the ball. It was the opportunistic Bulls defense that made the difference. Florida State fumbled the ball five times. On four of those occasions, it was a player in green that came out of the pile with the pigskin.

The front four of the Bulls was merciless led by Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie. The two defensive ends terrorized quarterback Christian Ponder every single time he dropped back to pass.

By the end of the game, Ponder could hardly walk.

"The front four was absolutely relentless," Leavitt said. "To hold them to 19 yards rushing was really important."

The Seminoles mounted a comeback effort in the fourth quarter when running back Ty Jones managed to find the end zone cutting the lead in half. No problem though.

South Florida, led by a freshman quarterback making his first career-start, calmly led the Bulls down the field with his arm and his legs. Daniels amassed 215 yards through the air and 126 yards on the ground in the victory.

Eric Schwartz pounded home the final nail in the coffin hitting a field goal from 27 yards out to make it a two-score game with very little time left.

When the clock struck 0:00, the Bulls were jubilant. The players raced to the end zone where the visiting fans were located and the celebration was on.

"You have to beat them to get talked about," Leavitt said.

"It changes history. You have to beat them to get talked about. Now I can say we should be talked about."

South Florida was now a perfect 4-0 on the season with the Big East schedule set to begin the next week at Syracuse.

Share your favorite memory from this game on The Bullpen.


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