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2005: Seven Minutes and Two Seconds


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USF
 

2005: Seven Minutes and Two Seconds

July 06, 2016
By  USF
 

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: 10th Edition (2005)

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)

Ninth Edition (2004)

 

By JIM LOUK

Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JULY 6, 2016 – Who was USF’s biggest rival in the Big East days?  You could argue for Louisville, but in reality it was probably West Virginia. From the first Bulls-Mountaineers game on Dec. 3, 2005 to the last on Dec. 1, 2011, it seemed like that matchup was always one of the biggest ones on the schedule.  Usually one or both teams were in the top 25.

It’s easy to figure out the USF-West Virginia game that resonates with most Bulls fans; the 2007 Bulls win in Tampa. A pretty close second would be USF’s 2006 win in Morgantown when West Virginia was ranked No. 7 in the nation.

But it’s the first meeting, one in which the Bulls didn’t play very well, that might be the most historic for USF Football.

It was the last game of the regular season, at home against a Mountaineer team that had wrapped up the league and a slot in a BCS Bowl game. The Bulls were 6-4 and bowl eligible, but the chances of postseason play were still a little murky. 

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In 2005, the Big East had four bowl slots and heading into the final game of the season, the league had four bowl eligible teams. Every slot was determined before this game, except USF’s. Rutgers had accepted an Insight Bowl bid in Arizona, Louisville was going to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, and West Virginia was going to a still undetermined BCS bowl.

That put the Bulls in Charlotte in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. 

Probably.

The concern was Connecticut. The Huskies were 5-5 and could reach bowl eligibility by defeating Louisville in a game being played concurrently with ours. If they did, then the Meineke Bowl would have its choice of two teams, and nothing would be guaranteed for USF. Yes, the Meineke Bowl had a rep in Tampa that night, but USF still needed a Louisville win, regardless of the outcome of the Bulls-West Virginia game, to clinch the first bowl bid. Otherwise, the Bulls might have to go out of conference to look for a slot.

And we all know how having to depend on other teams had worked out for the Bulls in the past.

First, the Bulls and West Virginia. Pat White was at the peak of his powers in 2005, and he ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulls’ offense never quite got untracked, and USF fell, 28-13.

Now it was time for some good old scoreboard watching. 

When our game ended, there was exactly 7:02 remaining in the Connecticut-Louisville game. There were two positive indicators at this point. First, Louisville was leading Connecticut, 30-14.  Second, George Johnson, the Meineke Car Care Bowl rep, had moved to the USF locker room.

So far, so good.

We then proceeded to wait out the longest 7:02 in the history of football, or so it seemed. On the radio side, we were determined not to leave the air without the official bowl game announcement, so on and on we went, all the while watching the TV feed of UCONN-Louisville, where both teams used each and every one of the 358 second-half timeouts they had.

Just before I started in summarizing the events of my senior prom in order to fill more air time, Louisville wrapped it up. Four bowl slots, four eligible teams. Finally, the Bulls were in a bowl game.

It was hard not to think of the 2002 and 2003 teams at that moment. 

As for the 2005 team, it was an evening of mixed emotions. There was certainly well deserved celebration when the bid was officially given. But before that, as we did our post-game interviews, there was a pretty good level of grumpiness.  USF had now lost two in a row and there was no joy in losing to West Virginia, no matter what was to follow.

Did the team back into a bowl bid? Not a chance. We’d beaten Rutgers, Syracuse and Cincinnati among others. It was a most deserving team.

Dec. 3, 2005 was an evening to remember at Raymond James Stadium. It wasn’t a great game, but it was a great night. Less than a decade after it all started we were in a bowl game.  And it didn’t seem right that it took that long.

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It sucks that there are current students and recent alumni who didn't see USF beating top 25 teams (sans Temple this past year) on the regular. Really puts into perspective the damage 2010-2014 did to the fan base. 

Edited by Ionbull
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