Scores

Final

South Florida 23

(1-0, 1-0 away)

(16) Notre Dame 20

(0-1)

Coverage: NBC

3:30 PM ET, September 3, 2011

Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN

1 2 3 4 T
USF 13 3 0 723
#16ND 0 0 7 1320

Top Performers

Passing: T. Rees (ND) - 296 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: C. Wood (ND) - 21 CAR, 104 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: M. Floyd (ND) - 12 REC, 154 YDS, 2 TD

South Florida upsets Notre Dame after long weather delays

Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Skip Holtz returned to a place that educated and shaped him. As soon as he reached campus, his memories from Notre Dame jumped out.

And now he's created an even more vivid one. Holtz and the South Florida Bulls came to South Bend and upset the 16th-ranked Irish 23-20 Saturday in a wild game that was twice disrupted by heavy storms.

"I don't know if all that's hit me yet. Notre Dame's a special place," Holtz said. "And it was great to come back."

His dad, Lou Holtz, wasn't there Saturday. But there were plenty of family members there to see one of Skip Holtz's biggest wins.

Lou led Notre Dame to its last national title in 1988. Skip graduated from Notre Dame, played a year for his father and then coached with him in South Bend.

The weather wasn't cooperating for this homecoming.

Officials asked fans to leave the stadium at halftime because of severe weather, mostly lightning, and the teams then stayed in their locker rooms for 2 hours, 10 minutes until it cleared. South Florida led 16-0 at the time.

Then with 4:21 to play, the game was delayed for 43 minutes and again fans departed the stadium with wicked lightning flickering around the stadium.

Holtz praised his team's poise.

"To have the kind of adversity they had to battle through and all the highs and lows of this day," he said. "The weather, the two-hour halftime and everything we went through as a football team. It's hard enough to come in here and play the tradition and for me a very emotional day to have the opportunity to come back, but to throw everything on top," he said.

He also pointed to former South Florida athletic director Lee Roy Selmon, who is in a Tampa hospital after a stroke.

"It's bittersweet not to have the opportunity to share it with him," Holtz said.

USF's Kayvon Webster returned a fumble return 96 yards for a TD four minutes into the game, taking all the momentum from the Irish. They couldn't recover. The score came after Notre Dame took the opening kickoff and drove smartly to the USF 1.

"You look up and they have had the ball and have driven the length of the field and you look up and you are winning, 7-0," Holtz said. "Kind of a good feeling at that point. It kind of symbolized a little bit of the day."

What followed was a nightmare first half for the Irish that included two fumbles, a holding penalty that nullified a Cierre Wood TD run and then an interception of Dayne Crist by USF's Devekeyan Lattimore in the end zone.

"The first half just a disaster. Period," Wood said.

Maikon Bonani kicked three field goals and the Bulls had a 16-0 halftime lead.

Then things got even stranger.

With the crowd getting restless over Notre Dame's erratic play as the teams left the field for halftime, the storms moved in and officials asked fans to evacuate Notre Dame Stadium. The teams were kept in their locker rooms.

When the Irish finally emerged, they had switched quarterbacks from Crist to Tommy Rees, who led them to four straight victories as the starter at the end of last season. Crist was 7-of-15 for 85 yards.

"We didn't expect to have to make this move, obviously, so it's going to require us to obviously evaluate the quarterback situation and make another decision," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.

"This was a step back for us as it relates to where we thought we were going. We certainly did not believe or think that we would have to make the decision that we made today. "

Right after the second delay late in the fourth quarter Jerrell Young intercepted Rees -- Notre Dame's fifth turnover of the game.

Rees threw an 8-yard TD pass to Michael Floyd to cap a 99-yard drive with 21 seconds left as the Irish closed to 23-20. But USF recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock. Rees went 24-for-34 for 296 yards.

With the delays, the game lasted 5 hours, 59 minutes.

Rees also hit Floyd with a scoring pass in the third quarter and Cierre Wood's 1-yard scoring run with 7:35 left made it 23-13 before the Irish failed to convert a 2-point attempt. Floyd, reinstated to the team last month following his suspension for drunken driving, made 12 catches and became the Irish's career leader in receptions, passing Jeff Samardzija (179). Floyd now has 183.

USF's B.J. Daniels completed 18-of-30 for 128 yards and also carried 12 times for a net of 37.

After a pass interference call in the end zone on Irish defensive back Gary Gray, Daniels threw a 2-yard TD pass to Evan Landi that opened up a 23-7 lead with 11 minutes left, capping a 14-play, 80-yard drive.

The Irish moved from the 20 to the South Florida 1 on the opening drive as Wood went 31 yards with a swing pass from Crist on the game's first scrimmage play and Floyd later grabbed a 26-yarder.

Wood had four carries for 21 yards to get the ball to the 1, but his backup Jonas Gray fumbled near the goal line as USF's Young stripped the ball. Webster picked it up and ran 96 yards down the sideline, a score upheld by video replay.

Bonani hit a 49-yarder to put the Bulls up 10-0 and then USF threatened to pull way ahead. After back-to-back facemask penalties on Notre Dame safety and captain Harrison Smith, the Bulls had a first down at the Irish 5.

But the Irish defense held and when Daniels was stopped on a third down from the 1 for no gain, the Bulls sent in Bonani for a 17-yarder that made it 13-0.

Later in the first half, Riddick fumbled a punt and Victor Marc recovered for USF. Bonani hit again from 36 yards out and the lead was 16-0.

After another Notre Dame series ended with an incomplete pass, Kelly could be seen on the sidelines in an animated discussion with the struggling Crist.

Rees completed a 15-yard pass to Floyd early in the third to put the ball at the 5, but once again the Irish couldn't convert. Rees' pass intended for TJ Jones hit the receiver and deflected in the air, resulting in an interception by South Florida's Michael Lanaris.

That sent Kelly into a rage on the sideline as he lectured Jones.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
USF
ND
1st Downs2027
Total Yards254508
Passing128391
Rushing126117
Penalties9-438-73
3rd Down Conversions2-145-14
4th Down Conversions1-10-0
Turnovers05
Possession31:0628:54

Passing Leaders

South FloridaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Daniels18/301284.310
Notre DameC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Rees24/342968.722

Rushing Leaders

South FloridaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Murray14402.9012
Daniels12373.1012
Notre DameCARYDSAVGTDLG
Wood211045.0118
Gray4174.3010

Receiving Leaders

South FloridaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Griffin8759.4013
Love22613.0018
Notre DameRECYDSAVGTDLG
Floyd1215412.8226
Eifert69315.5037

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERUSFND
TD11:00Kayvon Webster 96 Yd Fumble Return (Maikon Bonani Kick) 70
FG04:45Maikon Bonani 49 Yd 100
FG01:08Maikon Bonani 17 Yd 130
SECOND QUARTERUSFND
FG04:04Maikon Bonani 36 Yd 160
THIRD QUARTERUSFND
TD07:12Michael Floyd 24 Yd Pass From Tommy Rees (David Ruffer Kick) 167
FOURTH QUARTERUSFND
TD11:05Evan Landi 2 Yd Pass From B.J. Daniels (Maikon Bonani Kick) 237
TD07:35Cierre Wood 1 Yd Run (Two-Point Conversion Failed) 2313
TD00:21Michael Floyd 8 Yd Pass From Tommy Rees (David Ruffer Kick) 2320

Research Notes

South Florida became a FBS program in 2001. They didn't even start playing football until 1997. In the last 3 years, they have gone on the road and beaten 3 giants in the sport: Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame. They have combined to win 15 national titles (we count from start of AP Poll, which is 1936)
  [+]
Notre Dame lost its season opener for the fourth time in the past 15 seasons. The Irish finished with non-winning records in all the previous occassions. Twice, it resulted in the Irish changing coaches.
  [+]

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