No. 22 USF starts slowly before rolling over Illinois 47-23

South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) celebrates with teammates, including Mitchell Wilcox (89) and Darius Tice (6), after scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run against Illinois during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A big night passing for Quinton Flowers, three 100-yard rushers and another lopsided victory for No. 22 South Florida.

There was plenty for Charlie Strong to like Friday night in a 47-23 rout of Illinois, but nothing resonated more than the way Flowers led the Bulls back from a Hurricane Irma-layoff.

The dual threat quarterback threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, moving ahead of Matt Grothe and B.J. Daniels into second place on USF’s career touchdown pass list with 53.

The 2016 American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year also scored his 32nd rushing touchdown, tying Marlon Mack’s school record.

“We can still improve,” Strong said, “but offensively it was a major step for us. Offensively we hadn’t produced like that,” in the first two games.

The Bulls (3-0) beat a Big Ten opponent for the first time on a night USF honored first responders who worked the past week to help victims of the massive storm that impacted the entire state of Florida.

“We felt like we had a chance to give back … provide some relief for our communities, if only for a few hours,” coach Charlie Strong said.

“I was really proud of how our team responded,” to a short practice week that followed the postponement of last week’s game at Connecticut, Strong said, adding that senior leadership provided by Flowers was one of the keys to the dominating performance.

“He goes about his work,” the coach said, “and guys follow.”

Illinois (2-1) stumbled in what also was a homecoming of sorts for coach Lovie Smith, who returned to the stadium where he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons before being fired and accepting the challenge of rebuilding the Illini.

Illini freshman Mike Epstein scored on a 46-yard run and a 21-yard pass from Jeff George Jr., who replaced starter Chayce Crouch in the second half.

“A total breakdown, but, of course, it counts one game,” Smith said. “The good part about it is we’re going to leave our nonconference schedule and get to Big Ten play.”

Flowers completed 15 of 25 passes, including TD throws of 39 yards to Deangelo Antoine, 17 yards to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 17 yards to D’Ernest Johnson and 13 yards to Tyre McCants. Flowers also scored on a 6-yard run on the last play of the first half and finished with a team-best 106 of USF’s 376 yards rushing.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A big night passing for Quinton Flowers, three 100-yard rushers and another lopsided victory for No. 22 South Florida.

There was plenty for Charlie Strong to like Friday night in a 47-23 rout of Illinois, but nothing resonated more than the way Flowers led the Bulls back from a Hurricane Irma-layoff.

The dual threat quarterback threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, moving ahead of Matt Grothe and B.J. Daniels into second place on USF’s career touchdown pass list with 53.

The 2016 American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year also scored his 32nd rushing touchdown, tying Marlon Mack’s school record.

“We can still improve,” Strong said, “but offensively it was a major step for us. Offensively we hadn’t produced like that,” in the first two games.

The Bulls (3-0) beat a Big Ten opponent for the first time on a night USF honored first responders who worked the past week to help victims of the massive storm that impacted the entire state of Florida.

“We felt like we had a chance to give back … provide some relief for our communities, if only for a few hours,” coach Charlie Strong said.

“I was really proud of how our team responded,” to a short practice week that followed the postponement of last week’s game at Connecticut, Strong said, adding that senior leadership provided by Flowers was one of the keys to the dominating performance.

“He goes about his work,” the coach said, “and guys follow.”

Illinois (2-1) stumbled in what also was a homecoming of sorts for coach Lovie Smith, who returned to the stadium where he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons before being fired and accepting the challenge of rebuilding the Illini.

Illini freshman Mike Epstein scored on a 46-yard run and a 21-yard pass from Jeff George Jr., who replaced starter Chayce Crouch in the second half.

“A total breakdown, but, of course, it counts one game,” Smith said. “The good part about it is we’re going to leave our nonconference schedule and get to Big Ten play.”

Flowers completed 15 of 25 passes, including TD throws of 39 yards to Deangelo Antoine, 17 yards to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 17 yards to D’Ernest Johnson and 13 yards to Tyre McCants. Flowers also scored on a 6-yard run on the last play of the first half and finished with a team-best 106 of USF’s 376 yards rushing.

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