The South Florida Bulls escaped with a narrow victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders to kick off the Big 12’s bowl season. Not the best start.
To the surprise of many, this game was controlled by Texas Tech from the start. But in typical USF fashion, quarterback Quinton Flowers’ clutch performance was enough to push the Bulls over the hump at the end.
The Red Raiders struck first when Clayton Hatfield hit a field goal on the opening drive of the game to put Tech up 3-0. South Florida answered on the following drive with a field goal of their own to even up the score at 3-3. To close out the first quarter, Nic Shimonek capped off an 81-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Keke Coutee to regain the lead 10-3.
It wasn’t exactly the shootout everyone had expected.
The only score of the second quarter was courtesy of receiver Tyre McCants. Quinton Flowers connected with McCants as he got loose behind the Tech secondary for a 21-yard touchdown reception. To the surprise of most, this game was low scoring and nodded up at 10-10 heading into halftime.
The second half brought more offensive fireworks. The Red Raiders capitalized on a fumble recovery in plus territory with a Dylan Cantrell touchdown reception to give Texas Tech a 17-10 lead. South Florida answered again with a Darnell Salomon touchdown as he ran wide open past the Red Raider coverage to even up the score at 17-17. The Red Raiders then turned another forced fumble into a touchdown as Tre King rumbled for a 4-yard touchdown run to put Texas Tech back on top 24-17.
The Red Raiders held a seven-point lead entering the final quarter, and had yet to trail in the game.
Quinton Flowers found the end zone on his feet early in the fourth quarter as he outran the Texas Tech secondary. Tied up at 24-24, the Red Raiders couldn’t shake free of the Bulls.
With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Texas Tech took the lead once again. This time with a Clayton Hatfield field goal to put the Red Raiders up 27-24.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long after that for South Florida to take their first lead of the game as Quinton Flowered delivered a 64-yard bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Bulls led 31-27 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
Nic Shimonek responded as he orchestrated a clutch drive that was capped off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open T.J. Vasher.
The Red Raiders took a 34-31 lead with a minute and a half remaining in the game. The Texas Tech defense simply had to keep South Florida out of the end zone. Get the stop, and get the win. Give up the field goal, and take it to overtime — just don’t give up the touchdown.
It was too much to ask of the defense as Flowers found McCants behind the secondary in the end zone for the easy score with just 16 seconds left in the game.
Texas Tech didn’t have enough time or enough magic to answer and South Florida secured their second straight Birmingham Bowl victory.
In especially disappointing fashion, the Red Raiders drop to 6-7 on the year with the loss.
|3rd Down Eff||10-19||7-15|
|4th Down Eff||0-1||1-4|
|Yards Per Pass||7.1||9.1|
|Yards Per Rush||3.8||5.2|
|TTU – N. Shimonek||32/59||416||7.1||3||2||49.5|
|USF – Q. Flowers||17/34||311||9.1||4||0||89.8|
|TTU – J. Stockton||18||103||5.7||0||24|
|USF – Q. Flowers||14||106||7.6||1||29|
|TTU – K. Coutee||11||187||17.0||1||37|
|USF – M. Valdes-Scantling||3||133||44.3||1||64|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
Texas Tech junior wide receiver Keke Coutee had himself a day as he turned 11 receptions into 187 yards and a touchdown. The Biletnikoff finalist emerged as one of the top receivers in the nation this year. Coutee is considering declaring early for the NFL draft, but if he elects to stay for his senior year he will have a realistic shot at being the best receiver in the nation next year.
Kliff Kingsbury is now 1-2 in bowl games and 30-33 overall in his five seasons at Texas Tech. It appears as if Kingsbury’s job is safe for now after upsetting Texas in Austin. However, this loss to South Florida will make his seat even hotter heading into next season. Anything less than eight wins next year will probably lead to a change in Lubbock.
Junior Texas Tech LB Dakota Allen led the Red Raiders in tackles against South Florida. Allen was arguably Texas Tech’s best defender all year. The captain announced after the game that he will return for his senior season. This Red Raider defense turned a corner this year, and they may not be done yet either. The Red Raiders return a lot of firepower on defense and Tech fans should be optimistic about the 2018 season.
Fifth year senior Nick Shimonek finished up his Texas Tech career with a solid performance. Shimonek went 32 of 59 for 416 yards with three touchdowns. He ends his senior season with just under 4,000 yards passing and 33 touchdowns.