The Bulls hosted the SMU Mustangs under a quite beautiful blue sky on an early Saturday evening. This was the first home game that there was no chance of rain like the first two. This also marked the second start for quarterback Jordan McCloud. An interesting story is SMU quarterback Shane Buechele. He was recruited and coached by current USF head coach Charlie Strong. SMU was looking to go 5-0 for the first time since their suspension during the ’70s and ’80s. This marked the fifth time these two teams have played each other and the Bulls currently lead the series 3-1. The Bulls were looking to pull off an upset. They had two weeks to prepare for the Mustangs with a bye week coming last week. This game also marked the beginning of conference play for both the Bulls and Mustangs.
The Mustangs won the coin toss and chose to receive. They would begin their first drive on the 25-yard line. The Mustangs came out in a no-huddle offense. The Bulls defense came up with a big first stop and forced the Mustang to punt. The Bulls began their first drive on the 30-yard line. Like the Mustangs, the Bulls also came out in the no-huddle offense. A false start penalty cost the Bulls their first drive as they were unable to get a first down and had to punt. The Mustangs took a tip, that should have been a Pick-6 for the Bulls, as completion and made it look easy for the rest of the drive to score a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. On the next drive, McCloud took a sack then threw a dime to running back Jordan Cronkrite for 31 yards.
The Bulls had many third downs on the drive. McCloud ran and converted a fourth down. On a third-down, the Mustangs got an interception by Rodney Clemens in the endzone ending the Bulls drive with no points. On the Mustangs next drive, there were penalties on both sides of the ball. They used their running game a get a big run from Xavier Jones and take the lead 14-0 in which they took advantage of the turnover. On the next Bulls drive, there was another interception by Jordan McCloud. The Mustangs would posses the ball and the end of the quarter and have a 14-0 lead.
The Mustangs got a big pass play and on top of that a roughing the passer penalty. They faced a fourth down on the six-yard line. The Mustangs converted it for another touchdown and took a 21-0 lead. The Bulls continued to sputter on offense as they took a sack and had to punt. The Mustangs began their next drive near midfield. They used their fast-paced offense and had a 31-yard pass play to Reggie Roberson and took a 28-0 lead. The Bulls had issues again and were unable to get a first down and had to punt. After the drive ended the boo birds came out for the Bulls. What looked like a fumble turned out to be in favor of the Mustangs and just two plays later, they scored another touchdown via a 19-yard pass The extra point is no good.
The Mustangs missed the extra point but still led 34-0. McCloud and the Bulls offense continued having trouble and punted yet again. The Bulls came up with a defensive stop and forced the Mustangs to punt. The Bulls were again unable to get a first down and punted. The defense of the Bulls came up with another stop and forced the Mustangs to punt. The question was could the Bulls come up with anything on offense. The Bulls offense was going backward instead of forwards. This game plan would lead to another punt. On the Mustangs possession, they used short quick passes. The Bulls defense stepped up and got an interception by Devin Studstill who returned it 40-yards. The Mustangs took a 34-0 lead into the half.
The Bulls started with the ball in the second half and Blake Barnett started at quarterback. Hands to the face penalty extend the Bulls first drive of the half. A botched snap sent the Bulls in a familiar direction 20-yards backward. With all that, the Bulls punted. On the Mustangs first drive, Buechele scrambled and because of a busted coverage was able to extend the drive with a 23-yard pass to TJ McDaniel. The Bulls defense was able to stop the Mustangs with the help of a delay of game penalty. The Bulls only had one positive play on their second drive which resulted in a punt. Buechele escaped a sack and the Bulls get a personal foul penalty to help the drive continue. Buechele escaped another sack attempt and ran 10-yards for a touchdown to take a 41-0 lead.
On the Bulls next drive Barnett started by hitting tight end Mitchell Wilcox for 43-yards. Barnett hit tight end Jacob Mathis for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The Bulls trialed 41-7. The Mustangs would take the ball into the final quarter leading 41-7 and changing quarterbacks to Terrance Gipson.
The Bulls defense came up with another stop and forced them to punt. Barnett continued to look good as he started the Bulls first drive of the quarter with a 20-yard run. Barnett found Bryce Miller for a 13-yard touchdown pass and the Bulls got on the board again to make it 41-14. The Mustangs drove down to try and score. They would score on a 1-yard run by Tyrone Barber.
The Bulls drove down to try and answer. Barnett found Wilcox for another USF touchdown pass. The score at the time was 48-21. The Mustangs made another change at quarterback to Derek Green. Green threw an interception to Stacy Kirby. Barnett was shaken up but stayed in the game. The games would end with a 48-21 win for the Mustangs.