By: Garrett Ballard
The University of South Florida Bulls beat the Temple Owls 27-23 on Saturday to eclipse the five-win mark. Alex Golesh, in his first year as Bulls head coach, has the Bulls pushing for their first bowl appearance in over five years.
South Florida came out swinging, scoring three times in the first quarter. A Byram Brown rushing and passing touchdown, and a field goal led to a first quarter 17-0 lead. Brown finished the game with 316 yards and two total touchdowns. This game marks the fourth this year that Brown has surpassed 300 receiving yards, tying a USF record.
More than half of those passing yards went into the hands of receiver Sean Atkins. Atkins finished the game with nine catches for 169 yards, just under 19-yards per catch. The connection between Brown and Atkins was evident form the get-go; the first USF offensive play was a 40-yard pass completed to Atkins.
“He’s a guy that continues to get better, and better, and better,” Golesh said of Atkins. “He just needed someone who believed in him.”
Atkins was a walk on when Golesh and his staff arrived in Tampa, and now he has the most receptions in a single season in program history. He received one of two game balls given out after the game.
Temple was able to claw back into this one in the second quarter, scoring a touchdown and a field goal, but USF bounced back. Just before halftime, a field goal would put the Bulls up by 10.
The third quarter was looking quiet until a Tramel Logan pick-six added to the Bulls total, making it 27-10 through three quarters. Brown’s pick-six was the Bulls’ first since the 2021 season. In addition, Amaris Brown had two interceptions.
“Over the eleven months we have been here, he has become a leader,” Golesh said of Logan.
He continued on saying that Logan is someone the coaches point to from a process standpoint. Golesh praised Logan for getting on the jugs machine everyday, despite being a defensive lineman, just in case the opportunity arises and an interception presents itself. Logan received the other game ball given out by Golesh.
Temple scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to bring the score within four, but a late third and long completion to Atkins iced the game and secured the win for the Bulls.
This was not the prettiest win for the Bulls, but it shows how impactful Golesh already is.
“I’m so proud of continued examples of what we want to be, what we hope to be,” Golesh said. “I continue to be really proud of the foundation we are laying here.”
The Bulls have two games remaining and only need to win one to become bowl eligible. Next week, they travel to San Antonio, Texas to take on UTSA. The game is on Friday and kicks off at 9:00 p.m. eastern.