South Florida's first Big East win of the season snapped a four-game losing streak, the longest in program history. The Bulls (5-4, 1-4) had dropped their previous three by a total of 12 points, including 20-17 in overtime at Rutgers a week ago.
Syracuse (5-5, 1-4) has lost three straight since a huge 49-23 win over then-No. 11 West Virginia three weeks ago. The Orange have two games left to get that elusive sixth victory to qualify for the postseason.
Daniels was 23 of 34 for 254 yards passing and was not sacked, easily dashing away from trouble against Syracuse's swarming defense. He finished with 371 yards of offensive and had outgained the Orange until the final 3 minutes.
Syracuse crossed midfield only once on its first four possessions, going scoreless in the opening quarter for the fifth time this season. The Orange also were hampered by four major penalties in the early going.
The Bulls built a 10-0 lead on Maikon Bonani's 29-yard field goal and Marcus Shaw's 3-yard touchdown run, then watched Syracuse self-destruct in the penalty-filled game. The Orange were called for seven penalties totaling 86 yards and the Bulls had 10 for 84.
When Murray scored on a 2-yard run to make it 30-10 late in the fourth, the Orange had gained only 280 yards of offense. Small wonder most of the 41,582 who showed up on a blustery night had packed up and left the Carrier Dome before the end of the game.
The Orange went three-and-out on their first possession and Jonathan Fisher's 11-yard punt gave the Bulls strong field position. But they had to settle for Bonani's 29-yard field goal after the Orange defense stuffed a third-and-2 play from the 12.
A pass interference call against Ri'Shard Anderson set up the Bulls' first touchdown, and Murray made the most of a big gamble when he barely converted on a fourth-and-2 play from the Syracuse 5. Shaw finished it with a 3-yard run at 10:51 of the second.
Nassib finally got the Orange untracked, driving them 52 yards in just five plays late in the period. He scrambled left and hit tight end Nick Provo for 24 yards and, after getting sacked by Ryne Giddins, hit Lemon for 22 yards on a third-and-14 play. Lemon caught a 10-yard scoring pass on the next play to draw Syracuse within three with 3:52 left.
The Orange hurt themselves on the ensuing kickoff when Shane Raupers' kick squirted out of bounds, and Jeremiah Kobena was called for a personal foul.
That put the ball at the Syracuse 45, with plenty of time remaining for fast-scoring South Florida. In the previous six games, the Bulls had 14 scoring drives of less than two minutes - and six took less than one minute and three plays or less.
Add one more.
Andre Davis made a diving 43-yard reception between two defenders on first down and Daniels scored from the 2 to cap a drive that took 25 seconds.
Ross Krautman kicked a 28-yard field goal with 1:21 to go, but the Bulls quickly marched down the field again. Daniels drove South Florida to the Syracuse 29 with 9 seconds left. Jeremi Wilkes prevented a touchdown with a vicious hit at the back of the end zone that jarred the ball away from Victor Marc, but Bonani converted a 46-yard field goal as time expired for a 20-10 lead.
After Bonani kicked a 35-yard field goal to give USF a 23-10 lead midway through the third, the Orange got a lucky break. Daniels hit a wide-open Marc along the left side, but he fumbled as he dove for the goal line and the ball sailed through the end zone for a touchback.
The Orange offense continued to squander terrific chances.
When the defense forced the Bulls into a three-and-out late in the third, the Orange took control at midfield and drove to the USF 3. Syracuse had a chance to score but tight end David Stevens dropped a pass in the end zone and Nassib's desperate heave under pressure on fourth down fell incomplete.
Murray capped the rout with an 8-yard TD run with 61 seconds left.
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