— SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame came into its season opener against South Florida with high expectations for the 2011 season, but the Bulls didn't let that intimidate them. In a game that was delayed twice due to severe weather, South Florida capitalized on five turnovers and eight pentalites by the No. 16 Irish to win, 23-20, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend Saturday.
The Irish drove down the field with ease on the first drive of the game, but Jonas Gray fumbled the ball just outside the end zone in what would be one of several missed opportunities on the day for the Irish.
The sloppy play would continue, as quarterback Dayne Crist threw an interception in the end zone to halt another Notre Dame scoring opportunity in the first half. When the Irish came back out after the weather delay for the second half, head coach Brian Kelly went with sophomore Tommy Rees, who took over for Crist last season after a season-ending knee injury.
Rees was much more solid under center, leading the Irish to their first points of the game in the third quarter, but South Florida was able to respond with another touchdown with just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to make it 23-7, regaining momentum.
The Irish cut the lead to three at the end of the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late with only 21 seconds remaining.