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2009: Same Record, Changing World

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2009: Same Record, Changing World

July 20, 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: 14th Edition (2009)

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)

13th Edition (2008)



Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JULY 20, 2016 – The 2009 season began like the last two; with win after win. Matt Grothe got hurt, B.J. Daniels took over, and everyone from Wofford to Florida State fell to the Bulls. After five games, the Bulls were 5-0, but this time the top 25 voters weren’t as quick to embrace us.

USF remained unranked even in the week after the Florida State win. The fifth win, a week later against Syracuse, got the Bulls up to No. 21. 

But from the start, the 2009 team, with a freshman quarterback and a schedule that would feature five ranked teams, would be a hard squad to figure out. 

The win over Florida State has been well chronicled, but there was one more time this team showed how much talent they had.  One more game where all the lights were on, and the Bulls decisively beat a nationally ranked team.

After knocking off Syracuse, the Bulls played three consecutive ranked teams, something they had never done in their history.  All three games came in a 16-day period.

The results were about as all over the board as the season was. There was a 34-17 loss to Cincinnati, followed by a 41-14 loss to Pittsburgh. But then the Bulls came back and beat No. 20 West Virginia in one of their best performances of 2009.


On that day, in front of more than 56,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium, the Bulls captured the magic they had displayed earlier in the season in Tallahassee. Daniels threw for 232 yards and ran for 104 more. With 336 total yards, he logged 13 more yards than West Virginia did.

Most importantly the Bulls defense, after allowing a combined 75 points and 887 yards in the past two weeks, was superb. West Virginia’s star running back Noel Devine had only 42 yards rushing. 

The game marked the third time USF had beaten West Virginia, and it marked the second very high quality win for the 2009 team.  The victory evened their record in the conference at 2-2, and got the Bulls to 6-2 overall.  Like the victory over Florida State, that Oct. 30 win against West Virginia showed what the team was capable of.

What they were not capable of was playing that way every week. The West Virginia win was followed by a 31-0 loss to Rutgers.  After that, USF had a decisive win over Louisville, followed by a one-sided loss to Miami.

Up and down, up and down.  It sure wasn’t a year for dramatic finishes.  In 13 games, the Bulls played exactly two that were decided by 10 points or less.

Some controversy was swirling around this time as well, and it certainly could have affected the week-to-week performance of the team.

Regardless, the Bulls won another bowl game, and remarkably, finished 8-5 once again.  Read about the Bulls in the last ever International Bowl HERE.

Big wins. A fast start. National rankings. Struggles late in the season, 8-5.


All things considered though, the season should be considered a success.  Losing a four-year starting quarterback early in the year and replacing him with a freshman rarely results in eight wins, including two over top 20 teams. Throw in another bowl victory and it makes the 2009 team one we should remember with pride.

Those two big wins over Florida State and West Virginia seemed like ancient history on the long flight back from Toronto on the evening of Jan, 2, 2010.  We knew changes were coming, but most of us didn’t understand what they were, what they meant, or what they would lead to.  

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