BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Byrum Brown threw three touchdown passes and became the second USF quarterback with 4,000 total yards in a season, leading the Bulls to a 45-0 rout of undermanned Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl on Thursday night.

Brown, a redshirt freshman, closed out his outstanding season with 4,101 total yards. Quinton Flowers had 4,339 for the Bulls in 2016.

“I’ve said it before, tough, smart, gritty,” South Florida coach Alex Golesh said.

USF (7-6) finished above .500 for the first time since 2018. The shutout was the Bulls' first since 2009 against Charleston Southern.

“Seven wins is not the pinnacle of college football, but it’s certainly the foundation,” Golesh said. “We will win championships in Tampa. We will win championships at South Florida.”

Syracuse (6-7) struggled at quarterback. With starter Garrett Shrader missing the game following shoulder surgery, interim coach Nunzio Campanile employed a hodgepodge approach at quarterback. The plan went about as well as it sounds.

Tight end Dan Villari, a former QB at Michigan, drew the start, with backup quarterback Braden Davis and running back LeQuint Allen Jr. also sharing snaps. The Orange managed 159 yards against a defense that surrendered more than 450 yards per game during the regular season.

“We had to do what we had to do,” Campanile said.

But, help is on the way for Syracuse. After leading Ohio State to an 11-1 regular season, quarterback Kyle McCord entered the transfer portal and signed with Orange. Both McCord and incoming coach Fran Brown attended the Boca Bowl.

Syracuse nearly tied it at 7, but officials flagged defensive back Alijah Clark’s touchdown return of Brown's lateral because of a blindside block. The Orange still took possession in Bulls territory, but a botched field goal attempt resulted in Aamaris Brown’s 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

Tramel Evans provided USF its second scoop-and-score by returning a fumble by Davis 61 yards in the closing seconds of the first half, giving the Bulls a 31-0 lead at the break.

Sean Atkins caught two of Brown’s touchdown passes. A former walk-on in his fifth year at USF, Atkins caught six passes for 93 yards in the game and became the first Bulls player to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

“That speaks to who he is - a team-first guy,” Bynum Brown said. “He means everything to this team.”

Brown finished 19 for 26 for 214 passing yards. He added 64 on the ground.

USF’s defense forced four turnovers and limited Syracuse to 1 of 17 on third downs.

“I told the defense after the second drive we were playing harder than them,” Golesh said. “And there’s a team that wants to be there - a team that’s just happy to be there - and a team that wants to win the game. We were there to win the game, and the defense set the tone.”


Syracuse: Now the dust can settle a bit, after coach Fran Brown – who didn’t lead the Orange in the bowl game – landed the best recruiting class in Syracuse’s modern history. Expect the Orange to have quite a bit of buzz going into 2024.

South Florida: The Bulls put together one of the best turnarounds in the nation this season, after winning four of their last 37 games coming into 2023. USF has Alabama and Miami on next year’s schedule as part of its non-conference slate.


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