Give the Syracuse pasty chefs credit where credit is due.
On Saturday, they mastered the art of creating the "football turnover."
The Orange bakers wrapped up seven of the tasty offerings and the South Florida Bulls promptly gobbled them up and scored their fifth straight win of the 2009 season.
It was the Big East opener for both teams. The 34-20 win by USF was expected, the manner was not.
"They (Syracuse) came to play. We were very fortunate to win this game. We were in a dog fight," USF coach Jim Leavitt said afterward.
Indeed, Syracuse (2-3) put up a major fight for one half. And it was a sloppy half. There were five fumbles in the first four minutes, but USF managed to stay ahead with a 14-13 halftime lead.
But the breakout third quarter propelled USF in this one and sent the Bulls into a Big East showdown with unbeaten Cincinnati (5-0) in Tampa on October 15.
Quarterback B.J. Daniels hit Carlton Mitchell with an 85-yard touchdown pass that broke the game open. The Bulls followed with touchdown from Mike Ford and a nifty interception by defensive star Jason Pierre-Paul that he returned 18 yards for his first TD as a Bull.
The Bulls cruised from there but the new-era Orange were tough and perhaps have Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard of the Bearcats in a "can't wait" mode.
The one thing USF couldn't do was contain receiver Mike Williams, who hauled in two touchdown passes from Greg Paulus and racked up 186 yards in receptions.
Unfortunately, Paulus also completed passes to USF five times. Add two Syracuse fumbles, and seven turnovers often spell disaster and did Saturday.
In all, USF was less spectacular than it was against Florida State last week, but it took care of business and avoided the dreaded "letdown."
Daniels was steady, took care of the football, threw no interceptions. He threw for 208 yards and ran for just 32 but was content to let Ford shoulder some of the ground burden. Ford ran 13 times for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Opportunistic defense, steady offense.
It added up to a successful start to the Big East for the Bulls.
Now it gets serious with Cincinnati waiting, then Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
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