Bulls bowl bound?

After a rough start to the season, the USF football team still has hopes of making its first ever bowl game and looks to get one step closer Saturday against East Carolina.

A big win over UAB on Nov. 3 on ESPN2 combined with the Bulls’ home-heavy remaining schedule have the Bulls feeling optimistic about reaching the team’s number one goal for this season.

“That’s definitely the mindset right now,” senior center Alex Herron said. “We know we have a very uphill climb. Everybody keeps saying, ‘Oh, you guys must be so happy beating UAB,’ and that was a very big win for us. But in the big picture we know our goals are still there. We can still make a bowl game, but it’s a tough road.”

While the members of the Bulls coaching staff has preached consistent play all season, they’ll finally get it — at least with respect to their schedule.

The season got off to a rocky start when the season opener was canceled because of Hurricane Frances. A pair of midseason bye weeks further interrupted the continuity of USF’s schedule, as did the Bulls’ most recent game Wednesday night.

But after a 3-4 start, USF closes out the season with four straight Saturday games, three of which are at Raymond James stadium.

“No question (it helps) because you don’t change your routine,” quarterback coach Rod Smith said. “The worst part is when you have to travel and then when you play on a Wednesday like we did. That makes it rough because it’s a complete change of routine. It changes everything. When you play on a Saturday, that’s what we consistently do. Hopefully that’s a plus for us.”

USF hasn’t played consecutive Saturdays since September.

The Bulls (3-4, 2-3 C-USA) enter Saturday’s game against East Carolina coming off a 45-20 win over UAB on Wednesday. USF outscored the Blazers 28-0 in the fourth quarter.

The Pirates (2-6, 2-4) are tied with Army for the worst overall record in Conference USA. They come off a 34-24 loss to Houston and look to snap a four-game road losing streak.

“We are looking forward to another game,” ECU coach John Thompson said. “That is what this team is focused on. This coaching staff and this team is focused, excited and looking forward to the next game and the next game only. We are looking forward to going to Raymond James Stadium. It is a beautiful place. The last game I coached in before I came to East Carolina was in that stadium. I think our players will enjoy going down there and we are looking forward to playing a good South Florida team.”