USF 26, Auburn 23: Game Notes & Observations

USF upset the No. 17/14-ranked Auburn 26-23 in OT Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Jessie Hester caught the game winning score and the defense forced five turnovers in the win over the Tigers. Read more game notes and observations from the USFNation staff.

Game Observations and Notes

The Bulls started out fast, scoring twice in the opening quarter, but didn't see the end zone again until overtime.  Mike Ford and Matt Grothe each had short TD runs in the first, putting the Bulls up early 14-3 stunning the Tigers.  USF ran the ball 52 times during the game, but averaged just 2.6 yards per rush, for a total of 135 yards.  Through the air, Grothe completed 18 of his 27 attempts for 184 yards, including the game-winner to Jesse Hester in overtime. Some may question the play calling before settling for a game tying FG with 55 seconds left in regulation.  All in all, the Bulls did just enough on offense to pull out the win.

  • Mike Ford solidified himself as the feature back, rushing 21 times for 74 yards and a score.  Ford's touchdown with 1:56 left in the first quarter was his fourth of his career and his third rushing touchdown.
  • QB Matt Grothe recorded his first rushing touchdown of the season and the 10th of his career
  • RB Benjamin Williams equaled his long run of the season on the first play of the game with a 19-yard scamper, but finished with 5 carries for 18 yards.
  • Hester led all receivers with 6 catches and 64 yards, including the game winning touchdown in OT. Last year Hester had just three catches before red shirting last season.
  • WR Taurus Johnson had 4 grabs for 57 yards, including the play of the year for the Bulls, a one-handed catch in double coverage for a big 3rd down conversion that already has made the highlight reel.
  • WR Amarri Jackson caught 2 balls from Grothe for 32 yards, but drew a pass interference penalty that led to the Bulls first score.
  • TE Ben Busbee caught his first pass of the season and the second of his career with 6:19 left in the first half and finished with two catches for 8 yards.
  • The Bulls did not turn the ball over the entire game
  • USF converted just 4/17 3rd downs, but was 1/1 on 4th down conversions

The defense did everything they could do to bail the offense out during this game and it worked, with the Bulls forcing Auburn into 5 turnovers in the game Even after a rough 2nd quarter where Auburn started all their drives inside USF territory, the D played tough and refused to let the game slip away. The defensive line pressured Brandon Cox all game, forcing him to make bad decisions.  Nate Allen and Mike Jenkins both had interceptions for USF, and Tyller Roberts and Tyrone McKenzie both had back to back fumble recoveries in the 3rd.  Allen also added another fumble recovery.

  • The USF defense allowed just 165 yards through the air, and 135 on the ground
  • Brouce Mompremier and Nate Allen led the way with 6 tackles each.  Trae Williams, Ben Moffitt, and Mike Jenkins each had 4.
  • DE George Selvie recorded his seventh tackle for a loss this season during the Tigers' first series, but didn't get his fifth sack of the season until the fourth quarter. He assisted on another, increasing his total to 5.5 for the year. Selvie would finish the game with 3.5 TFL's including 1.5 sacks
  • DB Nate Allen recorded his second interception of the season and of his career, with 7:28 left in the first half. In the second half Allen recovered his first career fumble with 12:22 left in the third quarter. He then forced a fumble with 3:00 minutes left in the quarter, finishing with 3 take-a-ways on the night, and 4 in two games.
  • LB Tyrone McKenzie recovered his first fumble as a USF player with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
  • DB Tyller Roberts recovered his first career fumble with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
  • DB Mike Jenkins' interception with 7:28 left in the fourth quarter was his first of the season and the second of his career


Special Teams: This game would not have been as close as it was if not for the special teams.  USF failed to score off of their 5 turnovers in large part to 4 missed field goals by Delbert Alvarado, including a block.  They avoid the failing grade because of the tying 18 yarder made by Alvarado with 55 seconds left, and because of the punting and return game.  Alvarado was punting out of the endzone for most of the 2nd quarter and was able to get off some great kicks that sent the returner back peddling past the 50 yard line, giving the defense enough room to hold their ground. Alvarado connected from 18 and 38 yards.  He missed kicks from 45, 37, and 21, and had another 37 yard kick blocked.  He punted 6 times, 2 were downed inside the 20 and his long was 54 yards.

  • Probably one of the biggest plays of the game came on special teams.  With USF down by 3 with less than 2 minutes remaining and no timeouts, Jerome Murphy returned the kickoff up the left sideline for 58 yards.  This gave the bulls plenty of time to set up the tying field goal and send the game into OT
  • Murphy also returned the opening kickoff 29 yards.
  • P/K Delbert Alvarado replacing Justin Teachey, recorded his first punt of the season during the Bulls first series of the game, He booted the ball 40 yards placing it inside the one-yard line that led to the Bulls first score. He finished with 6 punts for a 42.8 average with a long of 54 yards and 2 inside the 10 yard line.
  • Although Delbert Alvarado didn't do as well as a place kicker on the night, missing four field goals, including this first three, going two-of-six. He hit the tying field goal in regulation on a 18-yarder with 55 seconds left.
  • LB Lucas Darr who was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA on Tuesday making him eligible to play got his first Bulls playing time tonight on special teams. Darr transferred from North Carolina State



Team Notes


  • USF raised its record to 6-0 all-time in the extra session.. USF's last overtime game prior to tonight, was a 45-44 double overtime win over TCU in Fort Worth on Sept. 25, 2004.
  • Tonight's crowd of 82,617 is the second largest to ever see a USF football game. It surpasses the 78,900 to see the Bulls play at South Carolina on Sept. 18, 2004 and falls short of the 99,235 that came through the turnstiles at Penn State on Sept. 3, 2005.
  • For the second straight season USF will determine its captains on a game-by-game basis. Representing the Bulls tonight as team captains was WR Marcus Edwards, LB Ben Moffitt, OT Walter Walker and DE George Selvie … This is Moffitt's second straight game being selected as a captain.
  • Las time USF played in the state of Alabama they got their final victory of the 2006 season, a 24-7 triumph over East Carolina in the inaugural Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham on Dec. 23 . Including tonight's game, the Bulls have played in Alabama four times and are 2-2 (Alabama 0-1, UAB 1-0, Troy 0-1, Auburn 1-0). USF is also 4-3 all-time against team's from Alabama (Alabama 0-1, UAB 1-1, Jacksonville State 1-0, Troy 1-1, Auburn 1-0). Prior to tonight the Bulls' last faced a team from Alabama on Nov. 22, 2003 when they dropped a 22-19 decision to former Conference USA foe UAB in Tampa.
  • Today marks the sixth anniversary of USF's original Football Bowl Subdivision "signature win". On Saturday, Sept. 8, 2001 the Bulls stunned the college football world defeating Pittsburgh, 35-26, in the first college football game played at Heinz Field. USF never had the opportunity to reap the benefits of the victory with the Sept. 11 attacks occurring just three days after.
  • The Bulls went scoreless on five Auburn turnovers on the night.


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