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September 7, 2013
The USF Bulls fell to the Michigan State Spartans by the score of 21-6 this afternoon, moving their record to 0-2 and moving the team to the near-bottom of the American Athletic Conference.
While the Bulls certainly made noticeable improvements after last week's 53-21 loss to McNeese State, the offensive issues that plagued the team in its season opener followed them to Spartan Stadium. The team did not score an offensive touchdown the entire game, and only tallied 155 total yards in the air and on the ground.
However, the Michigan State offense was not much better, resulting in a game with only three scoring drives and one offensive touchdown.
The first score of the game came nearly halfway through the second quarter, when DT Tyler Hoover forced a fumble from QB Bobby Eveld that was recovered by DE Shilique Calhoun and taken in for a touchdown. The first and only offensive touchdown didn't come until the 10:12 mark in the fourth quarter, when the Spartans topped off a short 33-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run by RB Jeremy Langford.
Both coaches shuffled their quarterbacks during this game in the hopes of sparking their respective offenses. Michigan State sawfive different players line up under center, while USF stuck with Eveld for all but one drive despite a 24 percent completion average.
QB Steven Bench, who saw action for the Bulls midway through the third quarter, went 0-for-1 passing and rushed for four yards on his only drive.
Defense was the story in this matchup, and USF's defense is what kept them within reach of Michigan State for most of the game. DE Julius Forte and LB Hans Louis each forced fumbles in the first and second quarter respectively, and Louis' forced turnover would lead to a USF field goal that allowed the Bulls pull to within one point of the Spartans heading into halftime.
While USF's defense kept them in the game, Michigan's State's defense won the game. Calhoun was certainly the player of the game, scoring two of the Spartan's three touchdowns with a fumble return in the first quarter and a 56-yard interception return in the third quarter. Despite playing on defense, he was the most offensive player in the game today.
RB Marcus Shaw was once again a bright spot on an otherwise stagnant offense, rushing for 94-yards on 23 carries, good for over 60 percent of USF's total yardage. WR Andre Davis also got some attention once Eveld seemed to find his rhythm near the end of the game, grabbing two receptions for 41 yards.
The Spartans (2-0) rotated Connor Cook, Tyler O'Connor and Andrew Maxwell at quarterback, but their offense contributed only one touchdown. The defense has scored four of Michigan State's six TDs this season.
Michigan State's defense scored two of the team's three touchdowns in a season-opening win over Western Michigan last week. That included a fumble return by Calhoun, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end.
Neither Maxwell nor Cook was very effective in Michigan State's opener, and Maxwell didn't play at all in the first half Saturday. After a 67-minute weather delay before the opening kickoff, Cook got the start for the Spartans. He went 6 of 11 for 32 yards in the game and also lost a fumble.
O'Connor, a redshirt freshman, came in near the end of the first quarter, and on his second drive, the Spartans made it all the way to the South Florida 3-yard line. But they couldn't reach the end zone and came away with no points when Kevin Muma missed a 25-yard field goal.
Maxwell started the second half for Michigan State and went 4 of 9 for 40 yards.
USF will now return home to Raymond James Stadium to take on Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Both teams will be looking for their first win this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report