Despite preseason predictions that favored USF football to win the AAC, after its 49-42 loss to UCF on Friday, the Bulls are out of contention. There’ll be no first conference championship in program history, at least, not in 2017.
The Bulls won’t even be in the championship game, and, as a result, won’t make it into their first New Year’s Six bowl game.
Just a bowl game against a power-five opponent.
Maybe in Boca Raton. Maybe in Annapolis. Maybe in St. Pete.
All of which, four years ago, would’ve been considered a huge success for a program that had won only two games in former coach Willie Taggart’s first season as head coach — but not in 2017. Not with the expectations that were set for the Bulls and coach Charlie Strong in his first season at the helm.
Coming off of an 11-2 season in 2016, some national experts, such as ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit, were even mentioning USF as a potential dark-horse candidate to make it into the college football playoff.
“I think Charlie Strong and the USF Bulls have a chance to be that team,” Herbstreit tweeted in response to a follower asking if a non-Power-5 team could make the playoff. “16 starters back including Q.Flowers -Won 11 last year!”
Even one regular season loss would’ve been a letdown, but two?
Unheard of. Especially how the losses came. USF failed to beat a single opponent that’s bowl eligible in 2017, while defeating Tulsa (2-8) by only a touchdown at home on senior night.
The Bulls were destined to be Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl bound, with senior leaders such as quarterback Quinton Flowers and linebacker Auggie Sanchez leading the way. Not Military Bowl bound against Wake Forrest (7-5), as Sports Illustrated and ESPN projected the Bulls bowl game destiny would be in an article Sunday.
Regardless of where USF plays, however, Bulls fans should watch the game in some capacity, whether it be traveling to the game or watching it on TV.
There’s only 60 minutes of Flowers in a USF uniform left.
Easily the greatest USF player in history to watch, Flowers has put up video-game numbers throughout his four-year career as a Bull on paper. Juking and jiving throughout the backfield, Flowers evaded rushers effortlessly in 2017 and in five out of 11 games, amassed more yards of total offense than his opponent’s entire team did.
Against the Knights on Black Friday Flowers shined, throwing for 503 yards and four touchdowns, while adding another 102 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Both the passing yardage and total yardage totals were program records for a single game.
“A lot of people always say I can’t throw, I can’t do a lot of things,” Flowers said. “I was prepared for it and I just told myself, ‘Make it happen. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. They aren’t going to expect you to pass the ball a lot like that.’ I just came out and I just gave my guys a chance.”
As far as career-long records go, Flowers can be found all throughout USF’s record books.
He’s currently tied with Marquel Blackwell for career passing touchdowns with a game still to go. He’s the lone leader for career rushing touchdowns and total yards. His 107 career touchdowns are 20 higher than the next Bull up.
It could be a long time before USF ever fields a player as special as Flowers again. So, regardless of whether it’s the Military Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl, Birmingham bowl or even the Independence Bowl, Flowers deserves your attention.