TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — BYU had to wait out a 2 1/2-hour weather delay to get its season started, then took just 11 seconds to score its first touchdown.
The No. 25 Cougars scored 38 straight points in the first half and cruised to a 50-21 victory over South Florida on Saturday night.
“I thought we did a lot of good things, we have a couple of things we will need to get fixed,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “But overall I was happy with our performance and with the way we handled the delay.”
Wide receiver Puka Nucua scored on a 75-yard inside run on the first play from scrimmage of the game and added a second rushing touchdown. Christopher Brooks rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown as BYU dominated the line of scrimmage and ran the ball for 314 yards.
“South Florida came out and loaded the box, trying to take away the run,” Sitake said. “But I thought the o-line was excellent and the backs played well. We did a lot of good things with the run game.”
Jaren Hall was efficient, completing 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He completed passes to 12 receivers.
South Florida was sluggish out the gate. Gerry Bohanon, a highly touted transfer from Baylor, had an interception returned for a touchdown by Max Tooley in the first quarter. Bohanon threw for 172 yards and rushed for 28.
“I felt like we were prepared, obviously, we weren’t,” USF coach Jeff Scott said. “When you play poorly against a very good team, the result is similar to what happened tonight.”
Wide receiver Xavier Weaver had five catches for 113 yards from the Bulls and Jimmy Horn scored on an 89-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
“They do a very good job with the return game and we gave up a couple of big plays there,” Sitake said. “Those are things we’re going to have to work on and fix.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
With leading wide receiver Gunner Romney out with an undisclosed injury, Hall spread the ball around to a dozen receivers. Chase Roberts led the way with three catches for 41 yards while Keanu Hill and Dallin Holker had touchdown receptions.
“The guys know what they are doing and they stepped up tonight,” Hall said. “That was my favorite part of the game, watching these guys make plays.”
Nacua was questionable to play, but had 102 yards and two touchdowns on four touches. He went into the injury tent after his third carry and did not play for the rest of the game. Sitake said the former Washington transfer was being held out for precautionary reasons.
“Everything is fine, X-rays are negative,” Sitake said. “We didn’t want to aggravate anything. He wanted to play and he did, but once that adrenaline lowered a little bit he was sore. So we decided to keep him out.”
BYU: The Cougars have loaded up their schedule with ranked opponents in hopes of getting some consideration for a New Year’s Six bowl. It was important to get off to an impressive start Saturday and BYU came out the gate strong, taking a 28-0 lead in the first 11 minutes.
USF: Scott is 3-19 at USF. This year USF was expected to at least be in contention for a bowl going into the final stretch of the season. But with a tough slate of games in September and October, it’s unlikely that will be the case.
BYU looked sharp from the opening snap and should gain some traction in the Top 25 with many tougher games coming up on the schedule.
BYU: Host No. 11 Oregon on Sept. 10.
USF: Host Howard of the Championship Subdivision on Sept. 10.