Maybe the bus was just in reverse until conference play.

USF took its American Athletic Conference opener Saturday, beating Cincinnati 26-20 for the first victory of the season and for new head coach Willie Taggart.

"The bus had the hazard lights on. Now the bus is moving a little bit," Taggart said after a win that was keyed by backups at both quarterback and running back.

To be clear there's still plenty of room on the bus, as actual attendance at Raymond James Stadium Saturday night was less than 16,000. But those present saw a pretty exciting game.

Starters Steve Bench and Marcus Shaw, who was 10th in the country in rushing yards, had first-half leg injuries. Former starter Bobby Eveld had a solid game going 10-of-16 for 122 yards while Mike Pierre ran for 61 yards on 16 carries.

Most importantly the offense, for the first time, did not allow the other team to score on a fumble or interception and only turned it over one time. Sure enough it was the Bulls who had two non-offensive scores to go with four field goals by Marvin Kloss.

USF was up 23-6 at half after Kloss' 24-yard field goal with :22 left. Cincinnati did cut the lead to 26-20 after being down by 20 points, but that last touchdown came with just two minutes left and USF recovered the onsides kick.

Before that came a key defensive stop with the score 26-13 and 6:45 remaining. Ryne Giddins, whose mother Sabrina's funeral was Friday (she passed from cancer), made a stop of running back Tion Green a the USF 10.

The two Bulls touchdowns came on a blocked field goal and a fumble return. Blake grad Mike McFarland's block was scooped up by Freedom High's Nate Godwin for a 75-yard score that made it 7-0 just :90 in.

And DeDe Lattimore picked up a fumble for a 10-yard TD and 20-6 lead midway through the second quarter.

USF is 1-4 overall but 1-0 in the new AAC. The Bulls play fledgling UConn next.