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Matt Richardson on USF-Auburn

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I'll have this up on SouthFloridaBulls.com later, but if you're like me, you're searching for every Bulls story you can get.  Here is Matt's:


Matt Richardson


Around 12:45a eastern time, Sunday, September 9 Matt “Golden Boy” Grothe tossed a beautiful spiral 14 yards through the air into the waiting arms of Jessie Hester Jr. in a play that will forever live in infamy somewhere in the annals of history for the South Florida Bulls. The play, in overtime, architects a win for the Bulls against one of the most storied teams in the SEC if not the NCAA the Auburn Tigers. Final score; 26-23.

As the Bulls ran off the field to the corner of the end zone where 3200 USF fans made the journey to Jordan-Hare one could easily flash back exactly ten years and 3 days as the Bulls were also running off the field a victor over Kentucky Wesleyan in the first ever football game for South Florida. It seems like just yesterday and it seems like eons ago.

Ten years. One decade to become a media darling and a favorite to upset a team from the highly touted SEC (and not just any SEC team) Ten years from obscurity to national household attention. Oh sure, there have been upsets before, Pitt, Louisville, West Virginia, all were big wins in their own right. Signature wins, wins that make a difference during that year, wins that propel teams to bowl games, wins that propel teams to this point.

However, this upset is different; this win will have impact for a long time. One could argue that, yes, this win has no relative impact on whether the Bulls win the Big East or not, but this win has far reaching implications that could potentially be considered bigger than winning the Big East. OK so the argument could be made that this win could be a catalyst for the Bulls for the rest of the year but the real win here is for recruiting, for USF in general and as coach Jim Leavitt put it last night, the real winner is the city of Tampa. 

Sure there were speed bumps along the way, Delbert had a tough, tough game, missing 4 field goals, but he made the one he needed to. The ghost of Rod Smith was out and about in the form of conservative play call, again and again, but the offense was there when it absolutely had to be. There were no points scored off of turnovers, but the turnovers were there and turnovers keep teams from scoring. You may not score if you get a turnover but you definitely won’t if you give one up. It ended up being a close game but it could have been a blowout. It could have been a loss, we could be here shaking our heads wondering what could have been, but we aren’t, we are living what could have been, what actually is.

You can’t really blame Bull nation if they are sitting there in stunned silence. We almost don’t want to breathe and jinx the rest of it. This upset is different because we almost believe in our heart of hearts that perhaps the Bulls really are that good, can really be that good. That maybe this isn’t a win that just happens almost by accident, that maybe this is a win that happens because it should have. Yet the Bulls have been anything but quiet. Word of students on campus filling the streets last night brings tears to my eyes. From personal experience, I know that you aren’t just sitting there in stunned silence; I witnessed the lack of silence first hand. The fact that this reporter hasn’t slept yet might have something to do with those tears.

Oh and don’t think the Big East and Mr. Mike Tranghese doesn’t just love the fact that the Bulls took that win last night. The Big East punched their big bullies in the mouth last year and Mr. T (I pity the fools) wants to make sure that they can back that up by punching them in the gut this year. And so far so good, the Big East has the best winning percentage of all conferences thus far, winning 14 of 16, and the only team with losses in the Big East is Syracuse. However the Bulls are the only Big East team with a win against a top 25 team thus far this year and only the only other team with a win against a team in a major conference is Cincinnati with their win against Oregon St.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the strength of this team, the defense. After Auburn spent most of the second quarter running the ball on the Bulls, adjustments were made, men were asked to step up. In the second half the Bulls started stacking 8 and 9 in the box asking the corners and safeties to basically go man on man for the rest of the game. Not only was the run shut down but that team of defensive backs is what really made the difference. The strength of this team is the defense; make no doubt about it.

Quick Hits

- I love the way that Auburn fans looked after the game, kind of like Michigan fans did.

- I love the way the uniformed (Navy?) boys in the stands were all pissed off and the best they could do was throw an Orange towel or two in the direction of the celebrating Bulls

- Watch the replay of the winning touchdown, one of cops at the end looks like he stomps his feet and goes walking towards the end zone, presumably to keep the fans from causing trouble, but on first glance he does look pissed - funny.

- Receiving corp played very will. Hester led the way with 6 catches for 64 yards and Taurus Johnson caught 4 balls for 57 yards. Amarri Jackson played well enough, catching two at important moments for 32 yards. Interview with Hester was cool, you can catch it here http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/boxscore?gameId=272510002.

- So the 2-0 Bulls now have two weeks to relive this win and prepare for the Tarheels. I’m not really one to look ahead but a 3-0 Bulls team against a 4-0 West Virginia team? Sounds like the makings of a killer game. But let’s get past the Heels first.

- The Bulls need to figure out what kind of offense they are, remove some of the conservatism and let Grothe throw the ball down the field. That’s now exactly, 215 minutes and 30 seconds of game time since Grothe threw his last interception during the second quarter of the West Virginia game. 97 pass attempts without an interception. Impressive, the boy doesn’t make too many errors.


- A lot of people are asking me if USF is going to be in the top 25, I’m not sure but don’t be surprised if we aren’t. Auburn struggled against KState and the pollsters may just slam Auburn instead of rewarding USF. I think, although we know different, there are still naysayers out there.

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