The Bulls withstood a couple of late Orange comeback bids and then added a couple of scores of their own for a more comfortable 37-17 victory.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Bulls, who at 5-4 crept to within one win of bowl eligibility for a seventh consecutive season.
They also got their first Big East win after four losses.
"I'm really proud of this team for the way they kept their nose to the grindstone," coach Skip Holtz said. "They kept working. They never gave up.
"It would have been real easy to kind of hang their head with some of the close losses that they've had. But they just kept competing.
"I keep saying this, but they are a lot better football team than their record indicates right now."
The key moment -- or moments -- came early in the fourth quarter with the Bulls leading by only 13 points. The Orange drove to inside USF's 10-yard line and were poised to cut the deficit down to one score. But, with the help of a dropped third-down pass by Syracuse tight end David Stevens, the Bulls kept the Orange out of the end zone.
But the defense's work wasn't done. After USF went three-and-out, Syracuse was right back down and threatening again with a first-down at the USF 14-yard line.
But again the Orange failed to score when, after a short gain on the first down, its next three passes fell incomplete.
The Bulls then responded with a nine-play, 83-yard drive that produced a touchdown and a 30-10 lead with just over five minutes left.
--Having played on a Friday night, USF will have an extra day to get ready for Miami on Nov. 19, but after that the Bulls will have short work weeks for their last two outings. After entertaining the Hurricanes, they are host to Louisville for a Friday affair on Nov. 25, then have a Thursday game against West Virginia on Dec. 1. All the remaining games are at home.
--With the victory at Syracuse, USF remained undefeated against the Orange in the Carrier Dome. The Bulls are 4-0 on the Orange's turf.
--USF has gotten off to good starts, scoring first in all nine games this season. The Bulls led 17-0 in the second quarter at Syracuse. The Orange became the fifth team to fail to score in the first 15 minutes against the Bulls.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Andre Davis -- The true freshman started at Syracuse and had three catches for a team-high 62 yards. With Sterling Griffin out injured, wide receiver has become a critical area for the Bulls.
LOOKING GOOD: The running game on both sides of the ball looked good against Syracuse. USF rushed for 236 yards with QB B.J. Daniels getting 117 on 21 carries. The Bulls averaged 5.5 yards an attempt. On the other side of the ball, the Bulls held the Orange to 108 for the night, or 3.3 a play. The Bulls also had three sacks for 15 yards in losses.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Bulls lost a fumble on a completion to WR Victor Mark that likely cost them a touchdown in the third quarter. Syracuse recovered in the end zone to keep the score 23-10. The Bulls have had at least one turnover in every Big East game this season. Penalties -- 10 for 84 yards -- also were a problem at Syracuse. The Bulls had four on their first possession of the second half, which started at their own 10-yard line because of a penalty for illegal wedge blocking. Near the end of that series, one of three consecutive penalties (two holding, one illegal substitution) wiped out Lindsay Lamar's run to the goalline (officials did not spot the ball because of the flag), and the Bulls settled for a field goal.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was important to get. It really was." -- Junior QB B.J. Daniels, on converting a fourth-and-2 at the Syracuse 5-yard line and scoring one play later for a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter at Syracuse.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--Junior QB B.J. Daniels had an outstanding game all-around. He rushed for 117 yards, a team-high, scoring on a two-yard run, and threw for 254 on 22-of-34 passing with no interceptions. It was the second 100-plus rushing/250-plus passing game of his career. He also did it against Louisville on Nov. 21, 2009. The touchdown was the 19th rushing of his career, putting him in fifth place in the category in the USF record book.
--Freshman WR Andre Davis had career-high in receiving yards (62, on three receptions) and also recorded his career-long with a 43-yard reception in the second quarter that set up a touchdown.
--Junior WR Evan Landi, who was moved to tight end this season, was back at wideout against Syracuse and had four receptions for 36 yards. He had a key third-down catch on USF's first possession of the second half.
--P Justin Brockhaus-Kann, who struggled the previous week at Rutgers, managed to keep his job but averaged only 33.8 yards on five attempts with a long of 42. He is averaging 37.4 yards on 43 punts for the season.
--Junior RB Darrell Scott did not play because of a concussion and wrist injury sustained the week before at Rutgers.
--Junior PK Maikon Bonani, who missed a field goal at the end of regulation the previous week at Rutgers, was 3-of-3 at Syracuse. He was good from 29, 46, and 35 yards.Click here to share your thoughts with other USF fans!