USF coach Skip Holtz was interested to see how his players would react to being ranked for the first time in nearly two years, and the Bulls (2-0) responded with a focused, dominating performance.
Taking up where they left off in forcing five turnovers during a surprising 23-20 season-opening victory at Notre Dame, the Bulls knocked the ball loose from Ball State's Phil Dudley on the opening kickoff. Mark Joyce picked up the fumble and ran 17 yards to put USF ahead just 8 seconds into the game.
Kayvon Webster's 96-yard, first-quarter fumble return got the Bulls rolling against Notre Dame. The fastest TD in USF's relatively brief football history dropped Ball State (1-1), which did not have a turnover in its season opener against Indiana, into a hole that the overmatched Cardinals would not come close to escaping.
Daniels threw a 20-yard TD pass to Victor Marc and Demetris Murray scored on a 2-yard run, helping USF build a 30-0 halftime lead while outgaining the Cardinals 386 yards to 76. When the Bulls had difficulty finishing drives, Maikon Bonani delivered field goals of 31, 24 and 38 yards.
Players and fans observed a moment of silence before the game for Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, the former Oklahoma and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end who died last week after suffering a stroke. Selmon was USF's athletic director in the 1990s, when the Bulls started one of the nation's fastest-growing college football programs from scratch.
The Bulls attended a memorial service for Selmon on Friday, and the university's board of trustees has approved renaming the school's athletic facility the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center. Players will wear No. 63 decals on their helmets, as well as the initials LRS on their uniforms, for the remainder of the season.
Ball State beat Indiana 27-20 in its debut under former Lehigh and Elon coach Pete Lembo, rushing for 210 yards and getting a superb passing performance from Keith Wenning to beat an opponent from a BCS conference for just the second time.
Until USF began substituting heavily in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had little success throwing or running the ball against a defense that allowed 508 yards to Notre Dame.
Wenning marched his team into Bulls territory just twice before Jahwan Edwards swept left end on a 13-yard, fourth-quarter scoring run that finished a nine-play, 77-yard TD drive that was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out an interception.
Wenning was 24 of 35 for 148 yards and no interceptions, but the sophomore quarterback lost two fumbles. Edwards was Ball State's leading rusher with 41 yards on seven attempts and the Cardinals finished with 225 yards of total offense - 93 of those coming in the final quarter.
Daniels, who did not play in the fourth quarter, completed 28 of 39 passes and was intercepted once. Darrell Scott led USF with 82 yards rushing, the highlight a 1-yard, third-quarter TD run in which he hurdled a defender to get into the end zone.Game Stats