HOUSTON – When the University of South Florida Bulls entered Reliant Stadium on Thursday night, they already were battling a curse.
Halloween was just an added bonus.
The Bulls, in losing against the Houston Cougars, now have an 0-10 record in Thursday night games televised by ESPN.
Before the game, Bulls first-year coach Willie Taggart dismissed any talk of a jinx.
“Don’t care what day it is, we’ve got to make winning plays,’’ Taggart said. “The spotlight does strange things to some people. Some people relish that moment. Some people hide. We need a lot of people who want to make a name for themselves.’’
Some of USF’s most painful defeats have occurred before ESPN’s cameras on Thursday night. The most memorable happened in 2007. After achieving the nation’s No. 2 ranking, the Bulls lost in meltdown fashion against Greg Schiano’s Rutgers Scarlet Knights 30-27. That jump-started a three-game losing streak to quickly erase USF’s momentum.
Kloss sets record
USF junior PK Marvin Kloss made field goals of 39, 50 and 49 yards. He has made 13 straight attempts, breaking the school record of 12, set by his former teammate and mentor, Maikon Bonani.
An offensive touchdown!
When USF true freshman QB Mike White hit junior TE Mike McFarland with an 8-yard pass with 11:25 remaining in the half, it ended the Bulls’ streak of 13 consecutive quarters without an offensive touchdown.
It was USF’s seventh offensive touchdown, but the Bulls still have much work ahead to avoid the worst year of TDs in school history (that was last season, 28).
And unless the Bulls really kick it into gear, they may wind up being recognized for a historically inept offensive season.
In recent college football history, South Carolina managed just eight offensive touchdowns in 1999, an 0-11 season under Lou Holtz (and offensive coordinator Skip Holtz). The Ohio Bobcats had just nine touchdowns in 1994. Meanwhile, Louisiana-Monroe in 2000 and Florida International in 2006 managed just 10 touchdowns.
For the second straight game, USF started four true freshmen — White, OG Dominique Threatt, DB Nate Godwin and CB Johnny Ward (the Bulls opened with a six-defensive back alignment). True freshman LB Nigel Harris didn’t start, ending his streak of five straight games, but he did play.
USF brought 12 true freshmen on the trip to Houston.
Bulls senior MLB DeDe Lattimore made his 44th career start. One more, and he’s in a four-way tie for second place all-time. USF’s record is 50 starts by DE George Selvie. Lattimore also moved into fifth place on USF’s all-time tackles chart. … With a 6-yard catch in the first quarter, Bulls senior WR Andre Davis made a reception in his 26th straight game. Overall, he moved into eighth place on the all-time receptions chart. … USF’s Chris Dunkley had a 41-yard punt return, the program’s longest since a 67-yarder by Terrence Mitchell in 2010. … Bulls senior DE Tevin Mims, from Round Rock, Texas, was greeted by 10 family members who saw him play for the first time in a USF uniform. … Houston linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves, who was on Skip Holtz’s USF staff from 2010-12, exchanged handshakes and hugs with several USF players before the game. His son, University of Florida freshman DB Vernon Hargreaves III, this week was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back. … USF doesn’t play again until Nov. 16 at home, when the Memphis Tigers (1-6, 0-4) visit Raymond James Stadium. Memphis, which lost 34-21 against Cincinnati on Wednesday night, faces Tennessee-Martin on Nov. 9. … University of Houston president Renu Khator had a 22-year career at USF, including provost and senior vice president under USF president Judy Genshaft before joining UH in 2007. … Former USF DL Terrell McClain, now with the Houston Texans, greeted the Bulls during Wednesday’s walk-through. … Bulls FB Tye Turner, who redshirted last season, saw his first action since 2011.