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USF Can't Afford to Think Small

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USF Can't Afford To Think Small


Published: Oct 12, 2005

South Florida knew life would be different in the Big East, but chances are the Bulls didn't realize the full implications of their new address. Take this Saturday's game at Pittsburgh, for instance.

Playing a program with Pitt's standing would be a big game for USF any time, but with what's at stake now it's bigger than ever. If the Bulls keep winning conference games, they would earn a major bowl bid.

Not that long ago, the notion of USF playing, say, Alabama or Florida in the Sugar Bowl would have been ludicrous. Not now, not after the Bulls became a player on the national scene by joining a BCS conference and beating Louisville the way they did.

Now they play a Big East road game for the first time. Beat Pitt, and the Bulls are 2-0 in the conference with West Virginia coming to Tampa.

Such aspirations have to be a way of life now.

Beat Pitt, and the Bulls are a step closer to things once unthinkable. It's the most important game of the season for USF -- at least until next week.

"Every one is big. … every game is a championship game," Bulls coach Jim Leavitt said. "You're in the Big East race, and you'd better be on and play well each week if there's any hope of winning a championship."

Taken For Granted

People have been a little slow to welcome the Bulls to the party.

They head to Pittsburgh as 2-point underdogs to a team that's 2-4 and lost to mighty Ohio University. That makes sense, though. The Panthers already have a name, and the Bulls are trying to earn one.

"We always feel we're fighting for respect," USF tackle Frank Davis said. "People don't cut us any slack. We like that. We don't have anything to lose."

Au contraire.

The Bulls have a lot to lose.

USF's rise from a football neophyte has happened so seamlessly, it's easy to forget what the Bulls have gotten themselves into. To go from Kentucky Wesleyan to daring to utter the words "Sugar Bowl" in nine years is preposterous, but it's what we have. It requires a new way of thinking.

Used to be, we could applaud going to Miami and playing the Hurricanes even for the last three quarters, as the Bulls did a couple of weeks ago.

Not anymore.

It's about the bottom line now, and losing 27-7 as they did should be treated with the same scrutiny as losses by Florida or FSU would be. Of course, the Bulls don't have the tradition or following that those schools do, but they're chasing the same thing the Gators and Seminoles are.

That's all that should matter.

A New World

This is the way it should be from here on out, for this season and every season. The Bulls have as much right to be part of the national conversation as anyone else. That's not saying they could beat Southern Cal, but it is saying they've been dealt into the big game.

When USF went to Pitt in 2001, the Bulls' 35-26 victory enhanced their image. That was good, but the stakes are higher this time.

This isn't just another Saturday trip to play a big-name team -- it's a conference game with national implications. To think otherwise is to stay small-time, and the Bulls left those days behind when they joined the Big East.


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They head to Pittsburgh as 2-point underdogs to a team that's 2-4 and lost to mighty Ohio University.


The closer this game gets the more concerned I become.  Breakdown Pitt's four losses.

Notre Dame - They were pummeled but I imagine were totally caught off guard by a ND team not yet known for it's Charley Weiss play yet.

Ohio U - 10-16 OT loss on the road in the first game.  OU intercepts Palko in OT.  A forgivable sitch if you consider the new coaches for both teams and its a roadie.  OU is 2-3 with losses to N'western, VPI, & BGSU.  They maybe a upper mid MAC team.

Nebraska - They lost to a team 7-6 due to missed FGs.  5-1 Nebraska is a legit team especially thier D.  Maybe top 35 team and probably the 4th or 5th best in the B12.  They had 6-0 TxTech beat.  If a DL goes down after a tipped pass intercept with less than 1:00 left, he doesn't fumble and NE wins 31-27 after being behind 21-0 in the second qtr.

Rutgers - Losing at Rutgers does give me some hope.  Watching Rutgers vs WVU, they aren't bad but they aren't PSU or UM either.  They gave WVU run for thier money in the third quarter until WVU had a 6 min drive.

We should be able to run the ball but USF FB road victories are not a tradition...YET!  I'd hate for the Bulls to lose now after beating UL.

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Guest S.  Bien

Everyone likes to overlook our two losses because of the strength of the opponent.  I can agree with that assessment but we also should give the same credit to Pitt who faced #9 ND, and Nebraska.  I will say neither team is as good as PSU or Miami this year.   Both  ND, and Nebraska would lose to PSU or Miami by the same scores we did, easily.  

But, given Pitt's opponents their record is understandable, EXCEPT OHIO!  Sorry Bobcat, but I watched that game and the reason Pitt lost to Ohio was because they couldn't run the ball, and Ohio made it a complete on dimensional game.

Honestly it was sad for Pitt, they lost 16-10, but 13 of Ohio's pts were both TD's returned for TD's.  So Pitt's defense kept up it's end of the bargain it was their offense.

I like our chances for a couple of reasons.

1.  We're clearly the better running team and usually the better running team wins most contests.  So, if we can establish the run early that bodes well for our chances.

2.  Their defense is stout but lacks exceptional speed, and is susceptible to the run against good running teams- see Rutgers, ND, and Nebraska against them.  

3.  Our run defense.  We are the better running team, AND we're better at stopping the run.  Their running game is average at best, and then going against our good run defense further amplifies the stat that the team which runs the ball better wins.

4.  Intangibles- speed, we've got way more of it on both sides of the ball.  Pat Julmiste is faster than most of their front line defensive players.  HB Blades is playing hurt.  They beat us bad and Leavitt loves revenge.

Aside from being a road game the intangibles play more into USF's hands then Pitt's.  They're struggling, and most Pitt fans realize that if they lose this game then they're almost completely out of the running for a bowl game.  They're going to fight like hell early on because their season is on the line.  We must take the fight out of them early, establish the run, and allow us to pick our times to pass.  Defensively shut down the run, force the pass, and force where and when Palko passes.  You do that and Palko will throw INT's.

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Penn St.   -Undefeated.   loss by 10

Miami,   -always a powerhouse. loss by 20

L'ville, - we still beat by 31pts...  Everyone picked them to be no.1 in the div. We should be able to put pitt in their place, and beat WV. The rest is all downhill.   IT CAN BE DONE!!!

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