The Miami Beach Bowl was a bit slow for a half or so, appropriate for a Monday afternoon kickoff. However, Western Kentucky and South Florida kicked things into overdrive in the second half, with the Hilltoppers coming away with a bonkers 45-35 victory.
Both teams combined for 413 yards and 24 points at the half, but the scoreboard lit up through the final two quarters with 56 points and 796 yards, including touchdowns of 69, 55, 34, 26, 53 and 42 yards. WKU pulled away by as much as 17 before USF cut the lead to just three in the fourth. But Anthony Wales busted loose for the final touchdown of the afternoon, and the Hilltopper defense held on downs in the final minutes and ran the clock out.
Here are three big things to know from this game:
1. 1,209 yards of offense and 80 points
Everything about the second half of this game was dramatic: seven fourth-down conversion attempts, trick plays, big plays, a missed 54-yard field-goal -- even the overthrows took on a manic energy. South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers finished with 382 yards of total offense -- a season high. Amazingly, the two teams combined for just six first downs in 30 third-down conversion attempts.
2. WKU's Brandon Doughty became just the 11th quarterback to surpass the 5,000-yard mark
Doughty completed an outstanding 32 of 45 passes for 461 yards and three touchdowns on the day, giving him 5,055 on the season. This marks just the 14th season of 5,000 yards or more, although Bowling Green's Matt Johnson will have a chance to break the 5K mark later this week in the GoDaddy Bowl. Doughty's 97 touchdowns over the last two seasons are an NCAA record as well, breaking the previous mark held by Colt McCoy.
3. Willie Taggart lost to his former team, but his program is on track
South Florida's head coach, an alumnus, former player and coach at WKU (he was head coach from 2010-12), finished 8-5 on the season, one in which many believed he was coaching for his job. And despite the loss, his players finished with season-highs in total yardage (597) and passing yardage (307).
With a fresh contract extension through 2020, Taggart now has both job security and results to pitch on the recruiting trail.