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2004: Gray, Gray and More Gray


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USF
 

2004: Gray, Gray and More Gray

July 01, 2016
By  USF
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On Sept. 3, the Bulls will start their 20th season of football.  This summer we’ll take a look back at 20 moments, one for each season, including the “practice but no games” year of 1996.  These may not be the biggest moments in USF history; they may not even be moments where things went right for the Bulls.  But they help define the program, remind us where the time has gone, and show how our Bulls have progressed as season 20 gets closer and closer.

20 Seasons, 20 Memories: Ninth Edition (2004)

Story Archive

First Edition (1996)

Second Edition (1997)

Third Edition (1998)

Fourth Edition (1999)

Fifth Edition (2000)

Sixth Edition (2001)

Seventh Edition (2002)

Eighth Edition (2003)

 

 

By JIM LOUK

Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JULY 1, 2016 – I don’t know for sure what the best game is in USF history is, and I don’t know for sure what the worst is either.

But I know what the grayest game was.

On Nov. 3, 2004, the Bulls beat UAB, 45-20, in the pouring rain in the battleship gray confines of Birmingham’s Legion Field; a gray game in a gray year of USF Football.

It was a strange, strange night. The Bulls played a made-for-TV Wednesday night game, one day after the 2004 election.  It was raining when we landed, it was raining the next morning, and it was raining at kickoff. It might still be raining there for all I know.

Official attendance was 9,220.  Those may have been the right numbers, but I’m not sure they were in the right order. Anybody that was there that night would dispute that the “9” should have come first.

Against a backdrop of empty seats, the gray, aging Legion Field was beyond gloomy that night. The stadium has since undergone some renovation, including removing the upper deck to create a quite pleasant view of the Birmingham skyline.  But back in 2004, the hulking, shadowy, wet upper deck with no one sitting in it helped created an incredibly sobering setting for a struggling Bulls team.

The Bulls entered the game 2-4. There had been a great 45-44 win at TCU earlier in the season (yet another double-overtime success), but we knew this might not be our year when the Homecoming game got away from us and we lost to Army, 42-35.  The Bulls had now lost three in a row. They’d never lost four straight.

There was still plenty of hope the Bulls could turn the season around though. After this trip to Birmingham, USF would have three of the last four at home.  A win over the Blazers, who had upset the Bulls in Tampa the prior year, could set the tone for a good finish.

The rain took its toll on both teams. The Bulls had trailed most of the way, and entering the fourth quarter they were down, 20-17. Then UAB’s Roddy White fumbled on USF’s 5-yard line, and everything changed.

With the field still a mess, the Bulls ran off 28 unanswered fourth quarter points.  There was a long pass play for a score and an interception return for touchdown, but it was mostly Andre Hall, who piled up 275 rushing yards.  We left Birmingham thinking the Bulls might be on the way to salvaging their season.

It didn’t work out that way, though. The Bulls would win the next week to climb back to 4-4, but they wouldn’t win again.  The 2004 season brought USF Football’s first losing campaign since the inaugural year. 

But on that gloomiest of nights, they put together their best quarter of football of the season and won in front of a national TV audience. The Bulls would be back in Birmingham a couple of years later to play in a bowl game, but that rainy night would mark the last game to date for the Bulls and Blazers.

Better days were ahead. In 2005, we finally figured out the math. Nine wins didn’t get us to a bowl game, seven didn’t either. Turns out we just needed to win six.

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2 hours ago, NewEnglandBull said:

Jesus, what a terrible season. That Army loss is second only to McNeese State. I will never forget how Army's wishbone attack ran all over us. 

I don't know about that. For me, it's still that FAU game the same year as McNeese. With USF football, I had very few expectations but two were that we would never lose to an FCS team and we'd never lose to a non-Big 3/UCF state of Florida team. That year was brutal. The Army game we at least had a lead after 3 qtrs where with FAU, we were shut out the last 3 quarters.

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35 minutes ago, Triple B said:

I don't know about that. For me, it's still that FAU game the same year as McNeese. With USF football, I had very few expectations but two were that we would never lose to an FCS team and we'd never lose to a non-Big 3/UCF state of Florida team. That year was brutal. The Army game we at least had a lead after 3 qtrs where with FAU, we were shut out the last 3 quarters.

For me losing to FAU was a foregone conclusion as that team was really bad. The Army year I thought USF would win six or seven games. Army had never beaten a CUSA team before and they were terrible. Hell, we even had A Hall and still could not beat those chumps. I do agree, however, McNeese was the worst  and will probably not be surpassed in my lifetime. 

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