No. 18 Florida escaped with a 31-28 win over USF on Saturday night in The Swamp. The Bulls were 23.5-point underdogs but gave the Gators everything they could handle for a 4-quarter battle in Gainesville.

It all came down to a 48-yard field goal attempt with 28 seconds left after a bad snap on a previous play, moving the Bulls from the Florida 19-yard line to the 33-yard line. After a 2-yard gain on 3rd-and-20, USF brought out the field-goal unit.

A botched hold on the field-goal attempt resulted in a miss, allowing Florida to kneel down and improve to 2-1 on the season.

USF was supposed to be a breezy get-right, bounce-back game for Florida with its talent advantage and home-field advantage over a Bulls team that entered the game with noted defensive struggles and a 4-19 record under its current head coach.

From start to finish, the Florida defense was unable to stop the run. For the second game in a row, the Gators saw a double-digit lead evaporate in the second half. In all 3 games so far, the Gators have been held scoreless in the third quarter.

Both teams ran effectively while struggling to pass. USF had more rushing yards (286-217) and total yards (402-329). The Bulls were led by RB Brian Battie (17 carries, 150 yards, TD) and QB Gerry Bohanon (15 rushes, 102 yards, TD).

Florida scored on 3 first-half possessions and got a defensive touchdown to lead 24-13 at the half. USF put up 8 points in the 3rd quarter. An Anthony Richardson interception helped set up a Bulls touchdown. USF used a double pass on the 2-point play to make it a 24-21 game.

As the Florida offense struggled, USF engineered an 11-play, 51-yard drive to take a 28-24 lead in the 4th quarter.

The lead change appeared to fire up the Gators. Florida was marching on a 7-play, 70-yard drive when Richardson threw a bad interception in the end zone, his second pick of the game.

It was then USF Bohanon’s turn for an ill-timed interception. The turnover gave Florida the ball on USF’s 28-yard line. Freshman RB Trevor Etienne ran the ball 4 times for the score. Perhaps Etienne is deserving of more touches.

All eyes were on Richardson Saturday night. Richardson said his confidence was impacted by early missed throws in last week’s loss to Kentucky.

Richardson started 7-of-9 passing in the first half for 75 yards. Two passing plays accounted for 53 yards.

In the second half, though, Richardson’s passing issues re-emerged. In the third quarter, he was uncomfortable and inaccurate passing from the pocket. Florida’s only second-half score came on a drive which Richardson handed the ball off every play after an interception set up prime field position.

Richardson finished 10-of-18 passing for 112 yards and 2 interceptions with 7 rushes for 24 yards. Richardson has yet to throw a TD in 2022.

Florida’s 3-man running back committee of Etienne (8 carries, 56 yards), Montrell Johnson (6 carries, 103 yards) and Nay’Quan Wright (6 carries, 37 yards) accounted for the Gators’ 3 offensive scores on the ground.