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2008: Top 10 Again

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2008: Top 10 Again

July 15, 2016

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: 13th Edition (2008)

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)

10th Edition (2005)

11th Edition (2006)

12th Edition (2007)



Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JULY 15, 2016 – The memorable 2007 season might have done a disservice to the USF Football team of 2008.

It would take an astute Bulls fan indeed to know it was the 2008 team that was the most recent USF team to be ranked in the top 10, nearly a full year after the ’07 Bulls hit No. 2.  On Thursday, Oct. 2 of that year, the Bulls played Pittsburgh as the No. 10 team in the country.

It’s easy to forget those Bulls were in the top 25 for nine consecutive weeks. The problem was those rankings came in the first nine weeks of the season; once again USF started fast and finished slowly. The Bulls dropped out of the top 25 at the end of October and didn’t get back in until October 2009.  

The 2008 team, especially its early season accomplishments, are somewhat overlooked when Bulls fans discuss this era. The truth is the 2007 and 2008 seasons had a number of similarities.


This year’s Bulls won their first five games, often in spectacular fashion. After a one-sided win against Tennessee-Martin, the Bulls had to go to overtime to beat UCF in Orlando, in what was then billed as the fourth and final game of the series. The following Friday night, in a battle of top 20 teams, Maikon Bonani stepped into the USF record books with a game-winning field goal as USF beat Kansas.

The Bulls then went on the road to help open the new stadium at Florida International.  A side note to that game; the stadium press area wasn’t finished, and instead of having a broadcast booth, we were in a large room featuring no less than four play-by-play crews. Imagine us, the Florida International broadcasters and two student radio stations all yakking in the same open, non-air conditioned room and you’ll get an idea of how glad we were when that game ended.

The Bulls survived, 17-9, the broadcasters made it through the day armed with stories to tell, and after another road win at North Carolina State the Bulls had a perfect 5-0 record to go along with that No. 10 ranking. The rest of the season would be Big East games, and that’s where the difficulty for the 2008 team started.

It began with a home Thursday night game against Pittsburgh, where the Bulls fell short, 26-21.  After a bye week and a bounce-back win over Syracuse, the trouble really began. Three straight conference losses followed, finishing with a dreadful 49-16 home loss to Rutgers. The 5-1 record had turned to 6-4 and once again the 2008 season was mirroring the prior year.

USF finished 8-5 after a bowl win in St. Petersburg over Memphis. The Bulls were 2-5 in the Big East.

In many ways, the 2008 season set the table for the next few years of USF Football.  The overall record of 8-5 would be exactly the same in every season until 2011.  There would be big wins, fast starts, more national rankings, and more struggles late in the season.

USF Football had developed in to a consistent winner; a program that could deliver at least one big, signature win in any given season.  But there was a sense of never getting over the top, and the conference results were frequently disappointing.

The 2008 team deserves more credit than it is generally given. But for a five-point loss to Pittsburgh, the Bulls would have been in almost exactly the same place as the 2007 team was after six games. It wasn’t such a shock by 2008, though. Maybe that’s why it’s not remembered as well; USF Football had been there before. 

After making it in to the top 10 in back-to-back seasons, Bulls fans could be forgiven if they thought accomplishing that feat was a little easier to do than it really was.

The wins would keep coming for a while, but some hard lessons were ahead.



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Aside from the Kansas game, all I really remember about that season is the bowl game vs. Memphis, when Grothe had the 32 yard run for a first.  We then picked up an additional 15 yards, I believe, because Grothe handed the ball to a lineman when he stopped running, and the lineman chucked it back at him. :D


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This was my freshman year, man I remember living in the dorms and writing in grease marker our record and ranking on the outside window so passerbys could see so much pride on campus and in the city; up until the Pitt game. We all just felt like this was going to be 2007 all over again. Man I hated Thuraday games and still do; they are horrible trap games that can throw off momentum. Can't believe that was our last win against Memphis and they are in our conference now. I remember thinking during that bowl game that "they are a basketball school, they will always be mediocre at best." I also never thought we would fall as much as we did.

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5 hours ago, Ionbull said:

I also never thought we would fall as much as we did.

Which would become a familiar refrain for Bulls fans later in each season. And that, in a nutshell, was why CJL found no friends in the administration...IMO, of course.

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19 hours ago, snarling Bull said:

Agreed. We fell after he left. Lost many fans and I don't see them rushing back yet

They're poised. Seriously, if this season lives up to the hype, the RayJay will be rockin again.

[edit] as long as frats don't keep scheduling events on game nights...:popcorn:

Edited by raptorcj
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