- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A week ago, E.J. Manuel made his case to be considered a Heisman favorite. Saturday's effort wasn't nearly as glamorous, but it was effective.
Manuel completed 19 of 26 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 30-17 victory over USF -- far from the fireworks he'd engineered a week earlier, but his biggest players were delivered with impeccable timing.
"He converted some big third-and-longs, made some critical passes, got us down there," Jimbo Fisher said.
Afterward, Manuel lamented the mistakes -- particularly an overthrown pass to Rodney Smith in the end zone.
"I'm still saying sorry to him about that," Manuel said. "I feel like I owe him some money."
But while Manuel wasn't perfect, he connected on a handful of big throws to extend drives and flip field position.
"It was huge," Manuel said. "Both for our momentum and to get first downs and move the chains."
The bulk of Manuel's work the rest of the game involved check-downs to the running backs and short throws to the tight ends. That was all part of the game plan, he said.
"They were open, so I threw it to them," Manuel said.
In a week in which other Heisman contenders posted gaudy stat lines, that type of offense won't put Manuel in the same spotlight he enjoyed a week ago.
Of course, after escaping USF with a victory, Manuel isn't too worried about style points.
"As long as I win," he said, "I'm happy."