PITTSBURGH – South Florida’s national showcase turned into Ray Graham’s coming out party.
The Pittsburgh running back rushed for 226 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers dominated the 16th-ranked Bulls 44-17 on Thursday night.
Graham’s 13-yard touchdown gave Pitt (3-2, 1-0 Big East) the lead for good late in the first half and his 8-yard sprint up the middle early in the fourth quarter sealed it as the Panthers broke a five-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
Pitt kept USF’s BJ Daniels under wraps all night. One of the nation’s top duel-threat quarterbacks couldn’t get it going with his arm or legs.
Daniels ran for 43 yards – almost all of it coming on a last-gasp drive – and completed 18 of 36 passes for 223 mostly ineffective yards.
Tino Sunseri threw for 216 yards and a score for the Panthers, who avoided a second-half meltdown for a third straight week and instead poured it on against the sloppy, inconsistent Bulls (4-1, 0-1).
USF came in off to its fourth 4-0 start in its last five seasons.
All that September promise, however, dissolved in the fall. None of the previous hot starts ended with a Big East title and a Bowl Championship Series berth.