South Florida enters unfamiliar territory for its American Athletic Conference opener against visiting East Carolina on Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla.
The game was scheduled to be played in Tampa on the same day, but due to the approach of Hurricane Ian, South Florida moved the game to FAU’s football stadium and changed the kickoff time to 2:30 p.m. ET.
Making matters more difficult for the Bulls (1-3, 0-0 AAC) is that they’re still picking up the pieces from a 41-3 thrashing at the hands of Louisville last week.
Baylor transfer quarterback Gerry Bohanon had his worst outing of the season, going 9 for 17 for 62 yards and two interceptions. In four games with the Bulls, Bohanon has thrown for 569 yards and six picks without a touchdown.
Jeff Scott removed Bohanon from the game with the Bulls behind 31-0 in the third quarter, a benching the coach said was partly about Bohanon’s health.
“I didn’t want to lose our starting quarterback before we played our first conference game,” Scott said. “He was banged up coming out of the Florida game and wasn’t able to throw as much during the week in practice, but we felt like he could go. Once it got to that point, you’ve got to think about your entire season.”
The Bulls take on East Carolina (2-2, 0-1) as it comes off a disappointing double-overtime loss in its AAC opener.
The Pirates took Navy to overtime after a back-and-forth fourth quarter. East Carolina could not score in the second overtime as it fell 23-20 at home.
East Carolina missed a game-tying extra point to lose to then-No. 13 NC State by one point in the season opener, then beat Old Dominion and FCS Campbell.
“They’re sitting here two plays from being 4-0. It’s tough,” ECU coach Mike Houston said. “I’m proud of our kids. I’m proud of our leadership, because they’ve been the ones that have brought us here and kind of given us these opportunities and they continue to lead with a lot of maturity and determination.”
The Pirates rank fourth in the AAC in scoring defense (18.8 ppg), while the offense is led by running back Keaton Mitchell and veteran quarterback Holton Ahlers. Mitchell’s 386 rushing yards rank second in the conference, and Ahlers has thrown for 1,067 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.
South Florida owns the all-time series lead 9-3, but East Carolina has won the past two meetings.