Both defenses came out of the gates playing well, allowing less than 60 yards in the first quarter. South Florida's offense got the first scoring chance as a result of an 11-yard punt by Jonathan Fisher.
The Bulls took advantage of that, plus a personal foul penalty on the way to notching three points on a Maikon Bonani 29-yard field goal.
The Orange came out with running mentality, and it yielded just three first-downs in the process. SU's defense held its own, but penalties were a problem at the beginning of the second quarter. Rishard Anderson was called for pass interference, and Torrey Ball was flagged for a personal foul soon after. Once close, the Bulls converted a 4th-and-1 and found the end zone on a 3-yard Marcus Shaw plunge on the very next play.
SU signal-caller Ryan Nassib helped to get the offense going on the next series, running for 7 yards on a scramble before finding David Stevens, who worked man-coverage for 26 yards. On a third down, Nassib was on point to a diving Alec Lemon later in the drive, but review determined that the ball hit the ground first – forcing a punt.
After a USF punt, Nassib would not be denied on the next drive. He dropped back on four straight plays before finding Alec Lemon for a 10-yard score. The touchdown came one play after he found Lemon for a 22-yard gain on 3rd-and-14. Nassib got the Orange in scoring position initially on a 24-yard connection with Nick Provo. The five-play drive took jut 1:48 off of the clock.
The Syracuse momentum lasted only so long, as Shane raupers' kickoff rolled out of bounds for a penalty. On the play, Jeremiah Kobena was flagged for a late hit. USF wasted little time capitalizing on the field position as B.J. Daniels found Andre Davis for 43 yards to get the Bulls inside the 5-yard line. From there, Daniels strolled in on an easy QB-keeper.
South Florida was then guilty on a pair of personal fouls to put Syracuse in business. Nassib continued to methodically get the offense down the field, utilizing short throws and his legs to do so. He fired a ball to Dorian Graham on 3rd-and-7 from the 11-yard line, and the ball went off of his finger-tips. Ross Krautman, who has battled a groin injury, made good on a 28-yard field goal.
Daniels and company came out throwing in a last-minute effort to get points before the half ended. A bubble screen to Evan Landi netted 16 yards, Demetri Murray gashed the middle of the defense for 13 yards and Daniels scrambled for 10 more on consecutive third downs. He nearly hit Victor Marc for a deep score, but Jeremi Wilkes broke the play up at the last second with a big hit. The Bulls settled for 46-yard try from Bonani with one second on the clock, and he made good on the attempt with room to spare.