South Florida and host Tulsa will chase down a rare victory when the teams meet Friday night.
The two American Athletic Conference programs find themselves at the bottom of the standings, with the Bulls owning the cellar due to an eight-game skid. Tulsa is standing right outside the door after dropping three straight.
USF (1-9, 0-6) earned its only win when it defeated FCS Howard 42-20 on Sept. 10 in Week 2. The campaign's low point occurred Nov. 6 when the Bulls fired head coach Jeff Scott after a 54-28 road loss to Temple.
Interim head coach Daniel Da Prato stepped in Saturday against SMU. The Bulls played better at times, forging a 17-17 tie at halftime before succumbing in a 41-23 setback on their home field.
"Obviously, a difficult week for our young men and for our department. We were able to fight through that for the week and we came out and I'm proud of our kids and their effort," Da Prato said. "But at the end of the day you play this game to win."
Quarterback Katravis Marsh was stretchered off the field in the fourth quarter but was "in good spirits, with movement in his extremities," according to Da Prato.
Running back Brian Battie recorded his third straight 100-yard game, with 145 on the ground, and is within 127 yards of the school's 10th 1,000-yard rushing season.
In its home finale Friday, ninth-place Tulsa (3-7, 1-5) will try to avoid slipping into last place by improving on offense. Behind quarterbacks Davis Brin and Braylon Braxton, the Golden Hurricane offense generated just 207 yards in Saturday's 26-10 loss to Memphis. The pair combined to go 17 of 37 for 176 passing yards.
Through its first three games, Tulsa's offense topped FBS schools with over 43 points per game and 413 passing yards per game, but it has regressed with Brin's injuries and Braxton's inconsistency.
"Early in the season, I thought we were hitting on all cylinders and things were coming together," Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. "Where I thought this offense was going to be able to go is in a totally different end of the spectrum than where we are right now."
USF holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series, but Tulsa has won the past two meetings -- 32-31 last season in Tampa and 42-13 in 2020 at Tulsa.
--Field Level Media