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Bulls not intimidated by road atmosphere


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Bulls not intimidated by road atmosphere

South Florida pulled off upsets of West Virginia, Louisville in years past

AUBURN, Ala. --

BY CHRISTA TURNER

turnerc@ledger-enquirer.com

--­--

"Been there, done that," could well be the slogan for the South Florida Bulls.

Played in large, loud stadiums? See above.

Pulled off big upsets in those large, loud stadiums? You got it.

The Bulls, who stunned West Virginia last year and Louisville the year before, will take aim at No. 17 Auburn on Saturday. There's no league title at stake, but there's plenty of incentive for South Florida. The players certainly won't be intimidated when they walk out in front of almost 90,000 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I believe we can play anybody," defensive end George Selvie said. "We've got the talent. We just need to play hard and be on the same level."

Sophomore quarterback Matt Grothe reacted like a child turned loose in a candy store.

"I can't wait," he said. "It's going to be fun. My favorite part of football is away games. I don't care who all we play. My favorite part is to go there and see their atmosphere and see what we're made of. If you win, people aren't expecting it."

The Bulls and Tigers (1-0) will play Saturday at 9:06 p.m. on ESPN2.

There's no pressure on these Bulls. Their program has existed for a mere 10 years -- 2007 is the 11th season. During that time, South Florida has made the leap from I-AA to a mid-major conference to a Bowl Championship Series conference, the Big East.

Head coach Jim Leavitt is the only coach the school has known. He grew up in Tampa, Fla., home of the Bulls, and hasn't left since taking on the challenge of building the program from the ground up.

Don't think the Bulls have earned respect? Just go look at the betting line for the game where a ranked Auburn is less than a touchdown favorite -- on its home field against an unranked foe.

"People are starting to recognize us," Grothe said. "Football is just 11 years old. It's just a matter of time.

The Bulls (1-0) opened their season with a not-so-rousing win over lowly Elon, 28-13. Grothe earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors last season, making him the second consecutive quarterback Auburn has faced that won a similar honor. In addition to him, the Bulls have an impressive freshman running back in Mike Ford, a former Alabama commitment.

"Mike Ford's a good football player," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We recruited him. He's going to be a force."

The Bulls run a spread offense and use a lot of no-huddle. Last week, Grothe passed for 238 yards on 23-of-39 passing for two touchdowns. He's drawn rave reviews from the Auburn coaches. Tuberville called their receiving corps "one of the best we'll see all year long."

Selvie led the way for the Bulls defensively with 10 tackles, including six for a loss, and four sacks.

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"I can't wait," he said. "It's going to be fun. My favorite part of football is away games. I don't care who all we play. My favorite part is to go there and see their atmosphere and see what we're made of. If you win, people aren't expecting it."

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I love this attitude! It seemed like before the WV game last year we were never going to get over that away game hump. But now I feel as though attitudes and expectations have changed ten fold. It is attitudes like this that will make us a force to be reckond with.

GO BULLS!

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Matt showed signs of that attitude last year as a freshman.  He says what is on his mind and he seems to want the big matchup like Auburn, home or away.  Remember his comments after the Louisville game?  He wants to play the best and thinks he can lead the team to a win.

Perhaps his confidence and swagger (to use a worn out word) has become contagious and the team psyche has been lifted.  Ready for any challenge, I love the attitude and the confidence whether we win or lose - you gotta gave it. 

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I was just reading over on the Auburn board and their fans were complaining about how they didn't make much noise last week.  They said it was only loud for about 4 minutes of the 60 minutes.  I would hope we can handle that.  All we need to do is make a first down here and there, and have our D set the tone early.  When I lived in the ATL, I went to a UCF/Auburn game (with UCF friends just to check out AU).  It was when the Tinmen had Culpepper.  Anyway, I wasn't that impressed with Jordan Hare that afternoon.  It was like RayJay.  Very quiet at times.  Not a Hostile Environment.  Maybe its different when LSU or Florida come to town. They were down the whole game until Culpepper turned it over for the fourth time that day and sealed their fate.  And thats when all the noise was made.  I'm hoping the crowd will be the same and our boys take it to them.

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