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USF and Illinois challenged for the all-time penalties record in a Friday night farce

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Flags, sloppy play, and a really long extra point combined for a weird game in Tampa.

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

You wanna talk penalties? Ok. USF and Illinois racked up penalties at a dizzying rate. Through the first half, there were 26 combined flags accepted, putting them on pace for all-time records. They would finish with 31 combined. USF won the game, 47-23, but that’s beside the point.

The NCAA record is 42 penalties, from a 1986 game between North Carolina Central and St. Paul’s. The Division I record is 39, which has happened in four games. The FBS record is 36, from a 1986 game between San Jose State and Fresno State. The Spartans had 24 flags in that game.

This game had the most first-half penalties in a college football game in 13 years, per ESPN. Ninety teams had 14 or fewer penalties, heading into Week 3. USF had that many in the first half against Illinois. (And USF was not one of those 90 teams to begin with.)

Through just the opening period, each team had seven flags called on them.

It would get worse.

USF hasn’t had more than 15 penalties in a game since 2013, and the school record is 19 back in a 2005 game. The second quarter opened with three penalties between the two teams in the first minute.

For posterity, we recorded every penalty for future generations.

  1. USF: Illegal shift.
  2. Illinois: Substitution infraction.
  3. USF: False start.
  4. Illinois: Offside.
  5. USF: Personal foul (this was the first PAT attempt).
  6. USF: Unsportsmanlike conduct.
  7. Illinois: Unsportsmanlike conduct (Nos. 5 and 6 offset).
  8. Illinois: Holding.
  9. USF: Roughing the passer (targeting to boot).
  10. Illinois: Pass interference.
  11. Illinois: False start (those last four were on consecutive plays).
  12. Illinois: Offside.
  13. USF: False start.
  14. USF: Holding.
  15. Illinois: False start.
  16. USF: False start (end of first quarter).
  17. Illinois: Clipping.
  18. USF: Unsportsmanlike conduct.
  19. Illinois: Pass interference.
  20. Illinois: 12 men on the field.
  21. USF: Face mask.
  22. Illinois: Holding.
  23. USF: False start.
  24. USF: False start.
  25. USF: Delay of game (that was actually intentional to give some more breathing room for a pooch punt).
  26. Illinois: Pass interference (end of first half).
  27. Illinois: False start.
  28. Illinois: Targeting (that’s two ejections now).
  29. USF: Holding.
  30. Illinois: Facemask.
  31. USF: Facemask.

The first half was a huge mess too, by the way.

USF scored a TD with a big Quinton Flowers pass early in the first quarter, and it’s just the way the Bulls would want to start the game. This, however, is not the way you want to put a capper on the score.

First of all, that’s not a regular 36-yard field goal attempt. That is indeed USF’s PAT attempt. Its first was good, but got wiped away by a personal foul. Thanks to that, the Bulls were backed 15 yards and kicked from the 18-yard line. It’s three yards longer than the NFL’s standard 33-yard extra point.

The attempt was blocked, and to add insult to injury, USF got flagged for sideline interference. But an Illinois unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the return made the penalties offset and so the two-pointer stood. It gave us the ultra-weird 6-2 scoreline early on.

ESPN’s Mack Brown mentioned that it may not have been all on the protection and that it seemed like the Bulls may have been getting the ball off late in the long snapper-holder-kicker exchange.

USF ended up taking control and cruising to the win, but it was certainly a strange one.