CFN Bowl Analysis ... Meineke
USF 31 ... Clemson 26
Where did this performance come from, and is this in any way indicative of what South Florida is capable of going forward?
It's not like Clemson was a world-beater, and it could be argued that it ranked just behind Miami and Georgia Tech as the ACC's biggest dud, but for a USF team that finished the regular season 103rd in the nation in total offense and was miserable trying to throw the ball, coming up with 31 points was impressive.
Okay, so the Bulls didn't go Oregon and crank out yards and points in chunks, but B.J. Daniels looked like the type of passer who really can be the leader of the attack for the next two years if he can keep producing. Against the aggressive Clemson defensive front, he was able to make good decisions, didn't force many throws, and showed the accuracy that was missing at time throughout the year. However, this win wasn't just about Daniels.
For Skip Holtz and his ability to try to build up the program into a major player, this was a great step. This wasn't like beating Northern Illinois in the International or Memphis in the St. Petersburg; this was a real, live win over a brand name BCS team. This was the type of win that recruits notice and Holtz can sell as an indicator that the program is about to take off.
Despite the final score, this was a dominant win for a program that has the recruiting base, the coaching staff, and the infrastructure to become a bigger player. Holtz was able to get the team going in the second half of the season, and now the groundwork should be set, with most of the key parts coming back, for a run at the Big East title next year.
- Of course Kyle Parker injuring his ribs isn't a good thing, but it's not a bad thing that Tajh Boyd got so much live action. He's the program now and he needs to take on the role.
- One yard. The fan in me would've liked to have seen Boyd and the Tigers get one last shot if they could've recovering a second onside kick.
- All the GMs and scouts who came to see Da'Quan Bowers had to have gotten what they were looking for. Along the way, they had to up the stock of S DeAndre McDaniel, who was all over the field.
- The USF offensive line wasn't great, but it was good enough against Bowers and company. Daniels took sacks because he hung on to the ball a bit too long, but when he got time, he was sharp.
- Between Georgia Tech's loss to Air Force, Miami's disaster against Notre Dame, and this clunker from Clemson, the ACC could use a few more Maryland-over-East Carolina performances.
- The Meineke Car Care Bowl has flown under the radar since its inception in 2002, but it has turned into a relatively competitive bowl on a regular basis. With Clemson's comeback, the last three games have been decided by a total of eight points, and four of the last five bowls have been decided by five points or fewer.
Where were you all season, B.J.?
After never quite looking right in a new system and getting hurt late, South Florida QB B.J. Daniels channeled his 2009 self in a pivotal bowl victory over Clemson. Beyond just getting healthy, he clearly benefitted from the extra practice time this month, managing the game well and looking crisp through the air. Even on his touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, he looked like the old Daniels, finding the crease in the defense and rumbling like a fullback toward paydirt. If you're Skip Holtz, you simply hope that today was a preview of things to come next fall. Daniels is just a sophomore, and with little serious competition around him, is probably the face of the Bull offense over the next couple of seasons.
- South Florida has defeated Miami and Clemson in its last three games. Last year, the Bulls knocked off Florida State. Yeah, they're still searching for that first Big East crown, but this is a budding power, with the ideal coach leading the way.
- With one more year like this one, Dabo Swinney will be in serious trouble at Clemson. How do you finish below .500 with a solid collection of talent on both sides of the ball? After getting thoroughly embarrassed in Charlotte, he's now 7-9 in his last 16 games, including a pair of ugly losses to rival South Carolina.
- As if he needed any more signs about his future, broken ribs should discourage Clemson QB Kyle Parker from ever putting the pads on again. A future millionaire with the Colorado Rockies, it turns out that his decision to play one more year with the Tigers was an awful one. His heart was in the right place, but he probably should have spent the fall taking extra cuts in the batting cage.
By Matt Zemek