Since day one, the numbers have been against the Bulls. At the start of the 2005 season, USF was considered to be dead in the water. No one outside of the Sun Dome expected the Bulls to compete in the Big East. Even The Oracle has picked USF to lose time after time. After looking at the numbers, though, speculation is starting to change into anticipation.
Over the nine seasons of USF football, the Bulls have won 63 percent of their games. Barring the minor setbacks while in Conference USA, USF has always been a team on the rise. The Bulls are the cliched sleeping giant of the state. Last Saturday against Louisville, the giant fell all the way down the beanstalk and landed right on top of a flock of Cardinals.
Overnight, a green-and-gold blip showed up on the country’s radar.
Behind the stellar play of the defense and the finesse of receiver Amarri Jackson, the Bulls pulled off the biggest win of their short history.
This Saturday when USF travels to the Orange Bowl for its inaugural visit and the first game of a home-and-home agreement between Miami and the Bulls, a lot more will be on the line.
Defeating the Hurricanes would not only replace Louisville as the biggest win in the program’s history, it would likely catapult USF into the rankings for the first time. But yet again, the numbers aren’t stacking up in USF’s favor.
Miami is 10-1 over the last 14 seasons when playing an opponent for the first time. Their last loss in an inaugural battle came against the Washington Huskies in 1994. Since 2002, Miami has posted a record of 17-2 at home, with its only losses coming against Clemson and Virginia Tech.
So what does this mean for USF? Not much, if you ask the players.
The “shock the world” mentality has gotten a hold of the Bulls. Quarterback Pat Julmiste is managing an offense averaging 31.5 points a game, compared to last season’s 29.7. Hall leads the nation’s No. 10 rushing offense and is on a campaign to become USF’s all-time leading rusher.
To keep the Hurricanes off balance, Hall will have to gain tough yards up the middle against the nation’s No. 27 rushing defense. Miami’s defense strength lies in their passing defense. The Bulls’ rushing attack accounts for 75 percent of the plays USF runs on offense.
Now let’s talk about the defense.
The Bulls’ defense has given up a paltry 11.75 yards a game this season. Laugh if you will, but the defense up to this point in the season resembles the Ohio State defense of 2001.
The Bulls bend, but they don’t break.
Ask anyone on the defense how they felt about Louisville scoring 14 points, and they’ll tell you it left a sour taste in their mouths.
Miami has a quarterback behind center making his third start. Granted, Miami has all the speed in the world on offense, but USF is no slouch. Forcing three-and-outs will be key to victory. Stopping running back Tyrone Moss, who is averaging 94 yards per game this season, will force quarterback Kyle Wright to make plays downfield.
Bottom line: The match-ups are in favor of the Bulls. Numbers can be talked and stats can be discussed until the end of time.
Win or lose, when USF steps onto that field on Saturday, the country will know why the Bulls were the team from Florida tabbed to replace Miami in the Big East.