Saturday was supposed to be the big game. The biggest for the Bulls since their inaugural game in 1997.
It was going to be the showdown for the Big East title. It had all the makings of a hyped-up matchup, for which USF has sold more than 30,000 tickets in advance – not including student tickets.
It was going to be the big, bad Mountaineers from the north against the Little School that Could from the south.
All the marbles were on the line.
It would provide exposure that could mean getting a high school phenom as a recruit.
Oops! Something went terribly wrong.
The Bulls first had to play a Connecticut team in below-freezing temperatures on the road. USF was away from the warm and comforting sunshine it’s accustomed to, in front of hostile fans – and players, for that matter. But is that a good excuse for losing to an inferior opponent? An opponent the Bulls, in all actuality, should have beaten by 20 points or more?
Not in my book.
So sports fans, why don’t we play the fingerpointing game for a moment.
Who’s to blame for the letdown last weekend?
The players? The coaching staff? Aunt Bettie’s cream corn? (Just kidding.)
It wasn’t just the players’ fault. They played a good game. There were a few mistakes here and there, such as guard Chris Carothers’ false start penalty. That was a big boo-boo, but the game wasn’t decided right then and there.
The play calling wasn’t the major reason for USF’s downfall, either. On fourth-and-goal from the six-yard line, wide receiver/quarterback Courtney Denson tried to complete a pass to quarterback Pat Julmiste, but was cut down for a 13-yard loss.
There were other calls that also didn’t pan out, but that doesn’t mean the coaches were at fault for every play that didn’t go their way.
Folks, the real reason the Bulls lost Saturday was because the Huskies’ defense was just too much for USF to handle.
The Connecticut defense – ranked sixth in the nation – dominated a Bulls’ offense that had once made Louisville look like a middle-school lightweight.
USF had five turnovers in the game. A team that gives the ball up five times during a game will almost never win. The Huskies’ defense also held Andre Hall – the Big East Conference leading rusher – to 93 yards. Connecticut slowed down Julmiste, allowing him to throw for only 168 yards on the day.
The Huskies came in with the mindset that they weren’t going to let these Bulls run all over them.
They wanted the game as badly as the Bulls did – maybe even more.
The weather didn’t freeze the Bulls – the Connecticut defense did.
But if USF defeats West Virginia on Saturday, all will be forgiven.
Makes you wonder how sweet that Sugar could have been.