BYU begins the season ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2009, coming off a 10-3 record and No. 19 final ranking. The Cougars are beginning their final season as an independent before joining the Big 12 in 2023. South Florida is in the third year of a rebuild under coach Jeff Scott, hoping to eventually play their way into conversations about future conference realignment. The Bulls went 2-10 last season and haven’t beaten a ranked opponent since 2016.
Former Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon makes his debut for USF, facing a BYU defense that returns 10 of 11 starters but struggled to stop the run last season. To have a chance for the upset, the Bulls will need to keep the Cougars offense, led by QB Jaren Hall, off the field as much as possible.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
BYU: A healthy Hall figures to be the key to the season for the Cougars. He missed three games due to injury in 2021 while throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns against five interceptions in 10 games. WRs Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney are back, too, and the Cougars running game has added Cal transfer Chris Brooks.
South Florida: Bohanon is a junior transfer from Baylor who started 12 games last season while leading the Bears to the Big 12 championship and Sugar Bowl victory. He accounted for over 2,500 yards total offense, throwing for 18 TDs and rushing for nine. The Bulls return the top four rushers from a year ago, beginning with Jaren Mangham (671 yards, 15 TDs).
FACTS & FIGURES
The teams are meeting for the third time in four seasons. BYU lost 27-23 at USF in Hall’s first career start in 2019. The Cougars built an early lead at home, then held off the Bulls down the stretch to win 35-27 last year. … BYU is 5-1 in season openers under coach Kalani Sitake. … Scott is 3-18 entering his third season at USF. … BYU’s next two games are against Baylor and Oregon, which are ranked 10th and 11th, respectively. … Brooks led Cal in rushing two of the past three seasons.