Published On: Mon, Dec 25th, 2023

Holiday Time is Always “Bowl” Time as ESPN’s Boca RatonShines a National Spotlight on Boca Raton and Palm Beach County

University of South Florida Bulls Dominate Syracuse Orange 45-0
in 10th Annual Boca Raton Bowl

University of South Florida (USF) Bulls made an emphatic statement in its first bowl appearance since 2018, dominating the Syracuse Orange from start to finish in a 45-0 win that featured several record-setting performances at the 10th annual Boca Raton Bowl, held Thursday, December 21 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton.  

First-year coach Alex Golesh did a remarkable job turning around a program that won eight games total in the four years before his arrival. USF finishes this season with seven wins — its first winning season since 2017 — and the largest margin of victory in a bowl game in school history. Like the Bulls did all season, they did it behind quarterback Byrum Brown and receiver Sean Atkins.

Brown threw for 213 yards and three touchdown passes to reach 26 on the season, breaking Quinton Flowers’ single-season school record of 25 set in 2017. Brown also joined Flowers as the only two players in program history with 4,000 total yards in a season.

Meanwhile, Atkins had six catches for 93 yards and two scores, becoming the first player in school history to go over 1,000 receiving yards.

But the USF defense took center stage. The Bulls came into the game ranked No. 128 out of 130 FBS teams in total defense but completely shut down the Orange, who were playing without starting quarterback Garrett Shrader (shoulder surgery).

Syracuse turned once again to converted tight end Dan Villari and Braden Davis at quarterback, but nothing was working. USF forced four turnovers — including a strip-sack fumble that Tramel Logan Jr. returned for a 61-yard score. USF special teams got involved, too, when Syracuse muffed the hold on a field goal attempt, and Aamaris Brown returned the fumble 64 yards for a score. Those two scores helped USF build a 31-0 lead at halftime, and the Bulls never looked back.

It was a disappointing end for Syracuse, which fired coach Dino Babers in November and had interim coach Nunzio Campanile in charge for the bowl. Incoming coach Fran Brown was in Boca to watch, and so was Ohio State transfer quarterback Kyle McCord, whom the Orange hope will help them improve next season.


  • OFFENSE: Quarterback #17 Byrum Brown, USF. The freshman threw for 213 yards and three scores, and his third TD pass gave him 26 for the season, breaking the school’s single-season record.
  • DEFENSE: Daquan Evans (Nickel, #0), USF
  • SPECIAL TEAMS: Aamaris Brown-Bunkley (#9, CB)

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The Boca Raton Bowl is a celebrated annual holiday tradition in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County that lives up to its other name “Boca’s Biggest Annual Outdoor Party.” As the only collegiate Bowl game in Palm Beach County, it features all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional bowl event. It is a high-energy, entertaining experience for both college football fans and non-fans alike making it for a great family and friends or company holiday party night.

Entering the Boca Raton Bowl, Syracuse University was 6-6 overall, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference and the University of South Florida was 6-6 overall and 4-4 American Athletic Conference. The Orange and Bulls were former Big East rivals. This was the first-ever appearance in the Boca Raton Bowl for both teams.

As one of 17 bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, the Boca Raton Bowl debuted in 2014 and has been well received in the community through its first nine years. It has twice held the distinction of matching up two conference champions – Marshall University vs. Northern Illinois University (2014), and UAB vs. Northern Illinois (2018). Through the years, six conference champions and another three conference division champions have played in the game and counted among the bowl’s alumni are New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (BYU, 2020 and also No. 2 pick in the NFL draft), Houston Texans running back Devin Singletary (FAU, 2017) and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Redick (Temple, 2015), who helped lead the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of collegiate sporting events nationwide. In 2023, the 33-event schedule includes four early-season college football kickoff games, 17 college bowl games, nine college basketball events, a college softball event and the inaugural Band of the Year National Championship, in addition to a new college gymnastics event coming in 2024. Collectively, these events account for over 400 hours of live programming on ESPN platforms, while reaching 60 million viewers and attracting more than 650,000 annual attendees. Each year, the portfolio of events features more than 20 Division I conferences and hosts over 4,000 participating student-athletes. With satellite offices in more than 10 cities across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. 

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