South Florida Shuts Out Syracuse 27 - 0
The South Florida Bulls (5-3, 3-1 Big East), who came into the Bowl Championship Series picture in late September with a stunning 45-14 victory over then-No. 9 Louisville, control where they go from here. If they win their remaining three games - Cincinnati, Connecticut and No. 16 West Virginia - they'll capture the Big East's automatic spot in the BCS.
It was the seventh straight loss for Syracuse (1-8, 0-6), and it came on the day the university retired jersey No. 44, one of the most storied numbers in the annals of college football.
Not even the presence of two of the running backs who helped make 44 famous - Jim Brown and Floyd Little - could help the Orange on this day. Syracuse finished 1-5 in the Carrier Dome, matching its worst record since the building opened in 1980. It also was the Orange's first shutout loss at home since being beaten 26-0 by Miami in 2000.
South Florida outgained Syracuse 427-183 and limited the Orange to 12 first downs.
The first play of the game from scrimmage set the tone for the day. Hall, who had 24 carries, weaved his way up the middle of the Syracuse defense for 38 yards, breaking two tackles and causing two more defenders to miss. The Orange defense then stiffened, and Kyle Bronson kicked a 29-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Joe Fields, making his second straight start at quarterback for Syracuse, was intercepted on his first pass of the game by Johnnie Jones near midfield, and the Bulls quickly struck again.
Pat Julmiste rolled right on the next play and hit Marcus Edwards in stride and between two defenders for 48 yards to set up Hall's 4-yard scoring run, which gave the Bulls a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Syracuse, 114th in total offense of the 117 teams in Division I-A, lived down to its woeful statistics. The Orange punted four times and threw two interceptions on their first six possessions, gaining just one first down in the opening quarter.
The Orange seemed poised to break through in the second after a punt and two penalties pinned the Bulls at their own 7. That all changed when Hall broke a 34-yard run on a second-and-24 play and tacked on runs of 22 and 10 yards to help set up Bronson's 22-yard field goal, giving South Florida a 13-0 halftime lead.
Hall reeled off a 38-yard run early in the third period to become South Florida's all-time leading rusher, surpassing Rafael Williams' five-year-old record of 2,253 yards. Hall, a junior college transfer, has 2,345 yards in his brief career.
Hall scored on a 33-yard run midway through the third. It was his 13th touchdown of the season, a school record, and he added another on a 1-yard run with 4:22 remaining in the game to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive.
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