It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Far from it.
When you take a look at the 21 points that made them underdogs, when you hear Lee Corso on College Gameday call USF a Big East bottom feeder and you read a column by a Tribune colleague, you want to look around in confusion and wonder, “What the hell was anyone thinking?”
Why was everyone down on USF?
Look at it this way: USF is now tied atop their new conference. They have beaten Louisville twice in three years. They dominated a game in which they were supposed to be dominated.
The Bulls that played in Saturday’s 45-14 win over Louisville – without a doubt the biggest upset and win in school history, witnessed by a crowd of 33,586 fans – do not look like bottom feeders, nor a team with a losing season. They certainly do not look like a team that is only nine years old.
That was a team that looked like it had Nobel Prize winners for its head coach and offensive coordinator.
That was a team that deserved to be the top highlight on SportsCenter.
That was a wide receiver who was playing basketball this time last year; a wide receiver who deserved all three – should have been four – times he scored.
That was a team looking at a postseason.
A bowl game.
With Pittsburgh needing Youngstown for a win and West Virginia needing East Carolina – a team USF knows all too well and dropped 41 points on – the Bulls pulled an upset from their sleeves and surprised everyone.
No one expected this.
With a quarterback written off before his first snap, a running back bearing more weight than a support beam and a defense known to let blowouts burst like broken dams, no one thought the Bulls would be in the driver’s seat of the Big East with only the Mountaineers in the passenger seat.And that leads to what the Bulls really want. What they jumped the Conference USA ship for: a bowl game.
They want it. You can feel it just watching them.
They are out to prove more than just four wins; more than just making sure recruits don’t pull out in the future; more than just worrying about what may have been and what could have been.
This is now, and now is what they want.
The Bulls made sure the Cardinals barely scored, and when they did, they weren’t happy.
A 14-point tally by Louisville may not seem like much, but it wasn’t satisfactory for USF.
They want more. And more means more work.
Andre Hall is leading. Pat Julmiste looks like a veteran. Amarri Jackson looks better than University of Southern California’s Reggie Bush.
Not every season works out like most expect it. It’s a recipe that includes talent (check), coaching (check), passion (check) and just a dash of luck.
That’s what the Bulls were always lacking. More than an independent team needed, more than C-USA would require, just a tiny bit of fate to help push the ball into the end zone.
Those bad calls on replays or penalties are helping, but just about as much as a seeing-eye dog.
Luck will carry them along the way.
The desire will follow them to their first bowl game in such a young existence. It’s not inconceivable. It’s not a potential waiting in the wake like Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese predicted.
It’s the now – a bowl game. It’s possible.
Just keep your fingers crossed.