USF coach Jim Leavitt doesn’t think about rankings, hype or any other factors that are out of his team’s control leading up to a big game.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Leavitt said he treats every game the same, and preparing for No. 8 Cincinnati, which the Bulls meet Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium, is no different.
“It comes down to matchups, and what happens
during a game,” Leavitt said. “You have to know you have to fight, scratch and bleed the whole time regardless … You just have focus on what you can control. What I can control is how hard we work. I want to put them in a position (to be successful). From there, they have to take over.”
That mentality has worked in recent years against teams that are favored over USF. Since 2007, USF is 4-0 against ranked opponents. The Bulls, however, have lost nine games in that same span to unranked opponents.
So, why the success against better teams?
“It’s probably just human nature, wanting to go after it and show how you measure up,” Leavitt said. “I don’t think it’s us or everybody else. You look across the country, there’s so much parity and I think people get excited about the opportunity. I would hope our guys would get excited to play anytime they go out.”
USF, No. 21 in both major college football polls, is a slight odds favorite over the Bearcats. USF has been ranked nationally in the past three seasons, including top-10 appearances in the last two.
The Bulls haven’t beaten Cincinnati since 2005, however. This year’s team may be the best one USF has faced, and Leavitt said that’s the best part.
“It’s a good team we’re playing Thursday,” Leavitt said. “I get excited about it because they’re so ‘dog gone’ good. It’s such a great challenge.”
‘Great timing’ for Tresey
In his second year with Cincinnati, USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey helped the Bearcats to a Big East title and an Orange Bowl berth last year as their defensive coordinator.
In his first season with USF, Tresey heads one of the top defenses in the nation and is a big part of the reason USF is one of the few undefeated teams left.
USF and Cincinnati were together in Conference USA before coming to the Big East. Since 2005, the Bearcats have made three bowl game appearances while USF has been to four straight.
On Tuesday, Tresey complimented Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and Leavitt for lifting their programs to national recognition.
“Let’s give credit where credit’s due: Brian Kelly has elevated that program a notch up,” Tresey said. “It’s an outstanding job … You look at Jim and what we’ve done here, it’s really been great timing on my part. I’ve been very fortunate. I’m very blessed”
DT Grissom may miss rest of season
Leavitt said defensive tackle Cory Grissom may have a stress fracture in his left foot, an injury suffered Oct. 3 against Syracuse, that may cause him to miss the remainder of the season.
Grissom has played in all five games this year, making five total tackles.
“It looks like it’s going to be extended,” Leavitt said. “He may have to have surgery on it. It’s tough. He’s played a lot of football.”
Leavitt also said freshman defensive end Ryne Giddins is unable to practice because of an ankle sprain he suffered last week. Giddins has played in three games this year.
“That thing is a pretty good sprain,” Leavitt said. “Those things sometimes take three or four weeks. I’m not optimistic about it.”
The Bulls should return two key players, Leavitt said: Senior wide receiver Jessie Hester (ankle) and sophomore safety Jerrell Young (arm) are expected to play against the Bearcats.
Pittsburgh kickoff time announced
USF announced Monday that kickoff for the Bulls’ away game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 24 will be at noon.
Chosen as the Big East Game of the Week, the game will be aired by ESPN Regional, ESPN Gameplan and ESPN360.com.