Tulane rushes past USF for 41-15 win as Bulls suffer 2nd disappointing loss of season
Darius Bradwell scored a touchdown for the seventh straight game and led a 368-yard rushing attack that keyed Saturday’s surprising 41-15 rout of a team suddenly reeling after spending three weeks ranked in the Top 25.
“A huge win for us,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “This is really big.”
The Green Wave (4-5, 3-2 American Athletic Conference) won in Florida for the first time since 1977, ending a 13-game skid by opponents from the Sunshine State by compiling 429 yards total offense and containing the high-scoring Bulls defensively.
Bradwell rambled 73 yards untouched to put Tulane up 34-3 late in the third quarter and finished with 135 yards on 15 carries. Corey Dauphine rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and graduate transfer Justin McMillan ran for his third TD in two starts as the Green Wave quarterback.
“We didn’t have that sense of urgency about us and just kind of went through the motions thinking they were going to back down to us, and that was not going to happen,” South Florida coach Charlie Strong said.
“For us to come out and play the way we played, it’s on the coaches,'” Strong added. “I told our players that (in practice Thursday). I saw it coming. … Even today, during pregame warmup I said I know we’re not ready to play, we’re not focused.”
South Florida (7-2, 3-2) has dropped two straight for the first time since 2015. The Bulls tumbled from the Top 25 following a 57-36 loss at Houston and were thoroughly outplayed Saturday in falling behind 27-3 at halftime.
Tulane kept USF‘s potent offense out of the end zone until Johnny Ford scored on a 5-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter. Blake Barnett‘s fourth-quarter TD run pulled the Bulls within 34-15.
The Green Wave outgained the Bulls 255 yards to 126 in the opening half, despite only having the ball for seven more offensive snaps.
Bradwell’s long TD run against one of the fastest defenses in the AAC was one of two second-half plays signaling it simply was Tulane’s day.
The other was a bizarre fumble Green Wave safety P.J. Hall recovered after USF’s Darnell Salomon caught a sideline throw for a 32-yard gain to the Tulane 32. Nickel back Tirise Barge poked the ball loose, and it bounced backward several yards before Hall scooped it up and returned it the USF 45.
Bradwell burst through a gaping hole in the defense and outran the pursuit to end zone to put the Green Wave up by 31.
“Nobody touched me. … That was a breakthrough play for us,” Bradwell said. “Not for them, but for us to realize that we could still compete and keep the gas on the pedal.”
McMillan, who transferred to Tulane from LSU, only attempted 11 passes, completing four for 61 yards without an interception. He scored on a 33-yard run in the first quarter, taking up where he left the previous week in rushing for two TDs in 24-17 victory over Tulsa.
Barnett, meanwhile, was 29 of 49 for 332 yards, one touchdown and one interception for USF, which saw its nation-best streak of scoring at least 20 points end at 38 games. The graduate transfer from Arizona State also led the Bulls with 59 yards rushing.
Tulane: The Green Wave have won two straight on the road, improving to 3-2 in conference play for the first time since joining the American in 2014. McMillan is 2-0 as the starting quarterback and has thrown for just 153 yards in the victories.
South Florida: The Bulls have rallied from double-digit deficits to win three times this season, but trailing by 24 proved to be too big an obstacle. They outgained Tulane 442 yards to 429, but were outrushed 368 to 110.
Tulane: Home vs. East Carolina, Saturday
South Florida: At Cincinnati, Saturday