TAMPA, Fla. - Johnny Ford rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 21 South Florida shrug off a slow start to remain unbeaten with a 38-30 victory over Connecticut on Saturday night.
Ford scored on runs of 15, 15 and 43 yards. He also set up a second-half field goal with a 78-yard burst, helping the Bulls (7-0, 3-0 American Athletic) pull away from a 7-7 halftime tie and match the best start in school history.
Blake Barnett threw for one TD and ran for another for USF. Jordan Cronkite, the nation's third-leading rusher at 151.4 yards per game, finished with 103 yards on 16 attempts for his school record-tying fifth consecutive 100-yard game.
Kevin Mensah rushed for 120 yards and two TDs for UConn (1-6, 0-4), which also got 197 yards and two touchdowns on the ground from quarterback David Pindell.
USF, one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the AAC, has rallied from double-digit, fourth-quarter deficits to win three times this season.
With UConn entering the game yielding nearly 54 points per game, the heavily favored Bulls didn't seem to be candidates to trail 7-0 late in the second quarter.
But Barnett threw interceptions on USF's first two possessions, UConn turned the first one into a touchdown, and the Bulls offense was unable to get on track until Ford finished a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a 15-yard run that evened the score less than a minute before halftime.
It was only the second time UConn hasn't trailed at the half all season. But the prospect for an upset faded quickly.
Randall St. Felix, who had two receptions for 123 yards, turned a quick sideline throw in front of the USF bench into a 75-yard on the first play from scrimmage of the second half. Two defenders whiffed trying to make the tackle, giving the speedy receiver a clear path to the end zone.
UConn: Until Saturday night, the Huskies hadn't held an opponent to fewer than 49 points. Despite yielding 346 yards rushing, they were able to stay within striking distance much of the night with a productive running attack (322 yards) of their own.
USF: The Bulls did what they've done all season - win while looking vulnerable against almost everyone they play. The offense gained 611 yards, but was forced to settle for field goals attempts on two long drives. Defensively, they're bound to not be happy after allowing both Pindell and Mensah to rush for more than 100 yards.
With No. 16 North Carolina State and No. 20 Cincinnati losing for the first time, USF is one of six unbeaten teams remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Bulls didn't earn any style points against UConn, though, so it won't be surprising if their climb is minimal in the next AP poll.
UConn: Home vs. UMass on Saturday
USF: At Houston on Saturday