South Florida 47, ILLINI 23 | Tampa, Fla.
How anyone, including the experts on, say, the Big Ten Network didn’t seem to differentiate between the Bulls and the Illini’s first two opponents – Ball State and Western Kentucky – for months leading up to the kickoff is beyond any comprehension right here. South Florida finished last season ranked in the top 20, it came into this one ranked in the top 25 and it has the best multi-threat QB in the country this side of 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson in Quinton Flowers. All that showed vs. the Illini.
2. Paging Kendrick Foster
He may not be what the doctor ordered, but the senior RB sure seems like he could add something to the Illinois ground game. No issue with freshman Mike Epstein, who had another nice effort (8 carries, 56 yards, TD, and a 21-yard receiving score), but Foster is a guy who ripped off three 100-yard rushing games last season. He finished the year with 720 yards all told, averaging 5.7 yards per pop. He had no carries against the Bulls. What gives?
3. Shocking stat
The score was telling and Flowers went off for 280 yards and four TDs through the air and 106 and one on the ground, but check this out … the Illini made 94 tackles in the game and the Bulls just 32. Don’t need any more explanation to understand which defense had to work harder, and longer. South Florida held close to a 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession (38:17 to 21:43) and yardage (680 to 354).
4. QB controversy
Looks like the great Chayce Crouch experiment may be over, sooner rather than later. Through three games, he hasn’t shown any of the same sort of intangible, offense-sparking energy that he did in a brief stint last season as the starter before getting injured. Jeff George Jr. came on in relief Friday night and got things moving for the Illini, completing 12 of 22 passes for 211 yards and a score.
5. Total domination
OK, so the Bulls outplayed and outperformed the Illini in every way possible. But, c’mon, the Illini crushed ’em in the uniform battle. Not sure what the heck South Florida is doing to, well, distance itself from previous good looks, but Illinois has it big-time in the attire department anymore. That orange-white-orange was sharp. Electric sharp. Now if the Illini could only match that with their play.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com