CHARLOTTE, N.C. – B.J. Daniels threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third as South Florida finished Coach Skip Holtz's first season with a 31-26 victory over Clemson on Friday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Mo Plancher also ran for a score for the Bulls (8-5), who took control after Tigers quarterback Kyle Parker left at halftime with broken ribs.
USF secured its fifth-straight eight-win season and earned its first bowl win over a team from a BCS automatic-qualifying league.
Parker's final football game before embarking on a baseball career ended abruptly when he broke ribs when tackled near the goal line at the end of the second quarter.
Backup Tajh Boyd was picked off by JaQuez Jenkins on the first play of the fourth. His 48-yard return set up Daniels' 8-yard TD run to make it 31-13 and gave the Tigers (6-7) their first losing season in 11 years.
It was a triumphant return to North Carolina for Holtz, who left East Carolina in January to take over at USF.
After a slow start, the Bulls finished with wins in five of their last seven games and gave the BIG EAST a 3-1 bowl record.
Holtz had insisted all week he'd split the snaps at quarterback between Daniels, who had missed the regular-season finale against Connecticut with a thigh injury, and freshman walk-on Bobby Eveld.
But a steady Daniels didn't need to share the offense, completing 20 of 27 passes for 189 yards and an interception. He locked up the MVP award when he zigzagged for the decisive score when he faked a pitch on the option.
It was a miserable end to a tough season for the Tigers, who were 2-0 before an overtime loss to No. 1 Auburn set off an avalanche of bad news and losses.
It wasn't what Parker had in mind when the first-round pick forfeited $800,000 from the Colorado Rockies to put off baseball for a year. After getting benched in the regular-season finale against South Carolina, he contemplated skipping the bowl game.
Turned out, he was done at halftime after he completed 11 of 17 passes for 134 yards and an interception. He finished the year with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
USF stormed to a 17-3 second-quarter lead behind Daniels' TD passes to Demetris Murray and Dontavia Bogan. The Bulls added a field goal following Quenton Washington's 45-yard interception return on Parker's poorly thrown pass toward the sideline.
After a rough beginning, Parker led two scoring drives to end the first half, the second included him escaping a sack and finding Marquan Jones for 38 yards to the USF 2. He was apparently hurt on a 1-yard run before Jamie Harper punched it in from a yard out to make it 17-13 at halftime.
Plancher's 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter gave South Florida a comfortable cushion again and the elusive Daniels was able to keep Clemson's stout defense at bay.
Da'Quan Bowers, who came in with a nation-best 15.5 sacks, never got to Daniels and failed to set the school's single-season sacks record.
Clemson, listless for most of the game, made a last-gasp effort. Boyd, who was 13-of-23 for 112 yards, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Fordwith 1:47 left.
The Tigers recovered the onside kick, quickly moved down the field and Boyd found Ford again for a 10-yard TD. But Clemson's second onside kick was touched by the Tigers about a yard short of the 10 it needed to travel and USF took over.
USF Football Post Game Notes
USF (8-5) 31 vs. Clemson (6-7) 26
2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl
Dec. 31, 2010 | Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, N.C.
- With today’s 31-26 win, USF’s record improves to 8-5 overall. It marks the 8th time in the program’s 14-year history that it has recorded at least eight wins, and the fifth consecutive season… Today’s win improves USF’s record to 103-62 all-time …
- USF is now 4-2 in bowl games, having won three in a row and four of the last five. The win over Clemson marks the Bulls first bowl win over a BCS program.
- Today marked the Bulls' second appearance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The first was in 2005, a 14-0 loss to NC State.
- Today's attendance was 41,122.
- The game marks the first meeting between the two schools. USF is 6-3 against members of the Atlantic Coast Conference all-time.
- USF's 31 points today in Charlotte are most allowed by Clemson this season (31 vs. Miami) and in a bowl game since Texas Tech put up 55 in 2002 Tangerine Bowl.
- OC Sampson Genus, S Mistral Raymond, LB Jacquian Williams and KR Lindsay Lamar were USF’s captains for today’s game against Connecticut … Genus, Raymond and Williams are all captains for the entire season, while Lamar is this week’s weekly captain … Today is Lamar’s second time as captain this season … He also made the walk with the season trio against West Virginia (Oct. 14).
-Today’s offensive starters were: SE Dontavia Bogan, LT Jamar Bass, LG Jeremiah Warren, C Sampson Genus, RG Chaz Hine, RT Jacob Sims, TE Andres Shields, FL Evan Landi, QB BJ Daniels, RB Mo Plancher, WR Lindsay Lamar
-Today’s defensive starters were: NT Cory Grissom, DT Terrell McClain, RE David Bedford, LE Ryne Giddens, SLB Jacquian Williams, MLB Sam Barrington, WLB DeDe Lattimore, LC Kayvon Webster, SS Jon Lejiste, FS Jerrell Young, RC Quenton Washington.
-After missing the season finale against UConn with a leg injury, sophomore QB BJ Daniels returned to the starting lineup. In his return, Daniels was 20 of 27 passing for a 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. He now has 11 touchdowns on the season and 25 for his career. After starting the game 0-for-3 passing with an interception, Daniels completed his next 14 passes. Daniels added his fifth rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend the Bulls lead to 31-13. It was the 14th rushing TD of his career.
- For his performance, Daniels was named the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl Game MVP.
- With :39 remaining in the first quarter, BJ Daniels hit Demetris Murray for a 25-yard TD pass. It was Murray’s second receiving TD of the season and of his career. It is his third game this season with at least one reception of 25 yards or more.
-Junior CB Quenton Washington registered the first interception of his career and returned it 45 yards to the Clemson 10 yard line setting up a Maikon Bonani field goal. Washington’s return was the longest interception return for the Bulls since Ben Moffitt’s 60-yard return against Pittsburgh on Nov. 24, 2007.
- On the next defensive series, Washington got a piece of a Clemson punt for his fourth career blocked kick and his third career blocked punt, second of the season. The first was against Pittsburgh in 2008 followed by his second earlier this season against FAU, both resulted in special teams touchdowns.
- Senior K Maikon Bonani hit his 17th field goal of season, good for the second-best total in USF history, behind Delbert Alvarado in 2007. Bonani has the most accurate season ever for Bulls, connecting at 81.0 percent (17-for-21). He also missed a 40 yard effort in the third quarter
- With 7:19 remaining in the first Half, Daniels hit Dontavia Bogan for a 15-yard strike to give the Bulls a 17-3 lead.
-With the touchdown reception, Bogan moves into a tie for second with 12 career touchdown receptions and also moves into a tie for second on the single season list with six.
- Senior RB Mo Plancher’s two-yard plunge with 9:47 remaining the third quarter was his fifth rushing touchdown of the season and the 16th of his career (eight on all-time USF list).
-Freshman PR Terrence Mitchell busted a 34 yard punt return. It is the third longest of his career. His longest is a 67- yard return against Western Kentucky followed by a 47-yard effort against Rutgers.
- Freshman S JaQuez Jenkins tallied his first career interception returning it 48 yards to the Clemson 5 setting up a BJ Daniels touchdown run. The return surpassed Quenton Washington’s 45 yard return earlier in the game for the longest in Meineke Car Care Bowl History.