Tampa, FL – The Miami Hurricanes will go into ACC play with their best record in nine years on the heels of another rout.
Duke Johnson rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown despite being shaken up on a hit and No. 15 Miami coasted to a 49-21 win Saturday over South Florida.
The Hurricanes (4-0) have won their first four games for the first time since 2004 and are rolling ahead of their ACC opener next week against Georgia Tech.
The 28-point win came a week after Miami's 77-7 dismantling of Savannah State. It was 49-7 in the fourth quarter before two late South Florida scores.
Starting Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns before leaving early in the second quarter with an injured ankle. Morris hung around the sideline as Ryan Williams took over, throwing for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Miami coach Al Golden said Morris felt good but came out because he thought the game was in hand.
"We had enough lead, I thought, that we could move on," said Golden.
But Morris complained that perhaps South Florida players knew he had a bad ankle and were targeting it, calling the Bulls "a dirty team to say the least," according to several accounts of his comments.
Johnson came out of the game for part of a series in the first quarter after taking a hit across the chin from Bulls safety Mark Joyce but returned and finished with 14 carries.
"It's fine," he said. "A lot of times it is precautionary measurements just to get me checked out before I go back in."
Stacy Coley had four catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns for Miami and Dallas Crawford rushed for two scores.
The Bulls (0-4) are still winless under new coach Willie Taggart and have lost 13 of their last 14 games dating back to Week 3 last season. They were coming off a bye and will start play in the American Athletic Conference next week against Cincinnati.
Steven Bench, who transferred from Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, was the third starting quarterback in four games for the Bulls and threw for 189 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Miami had 10 first downs and 251 yards of offense in the first quarter for a 21-7 lead.
"We came into this game knowing that they were a big-play team and that they do play-action and try to throw it deep on first and second down," said Taggart. "Those things we knew. Our guys knew it and we didn't trust it.
"We didn't do what we were supposed to do. We let guys get behind us. Not one time but quite a few."
Crawford scored on a 7-yard run on the game's first possession to give Miami a 7-0 lead. The Bulls came right back to score. Marcus Shaw had a 44-yard run, then scored on a 3-yarder to tie the game.
Morris threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Herb Waters after that and Miami built a 21-7 lead going into the second quarter after Morris' 34-yard strike to Coley in the back of the end zone despite lots of pressure.
On that drive, Johnson hurdled a teammate on a 10-yard run and was tackled by Joyce. He got up after the hit and took several steps, then went down to one knee before lying on the field for several minutes.
But he came back, and the Hurricanes were two yards from another touchdown when Johnson fumbled in front of the goal line while trying to stretch the ball over it and the ball was recovered by South Florida.
Miami scored anyway. Lineman Shayon Green rushed Bench unblocked and forced a fumble in the end zone and linebacker Jimmy Gaines recovered it for a 28-7 Hurricanes lead.
The Hurricanes went up 35-7 on Johnson's slashing 4-yard run, giving him at least one touchdown in eight straight games.
Johnson had another fumble before halftime, but South Florida went three-and- out. Miami's Matt Goudis missed a 23-yard field goal try before the break.
Williams found Coley in the third quarter for an 11-yard touchdown and Crawford added a 1-yard score for a 49-7 Miami lead after three quarters.
Gray Crow played the fourth quarter for Miami and his second pass was tipped and intercepted by Julius Forte, who rumbled 11 yards to get South Florida within 49-14 early in the fourth. Bench hit Derrick Hopkins for a 16-yard touchdown with two seconds left in the game.
The Hurricanes started 6-0 in 2004 ... Morris was 11-of-16 passing. Williams was 8-for-14 ... Miami leads the series 5-1 ... Johnson had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back in the first quarter because of a holding penalty.