Louisville is over.
It was a great win. Everyone saw it, and the Bulls became the golden child of the college football nation for a few days. Congrats are well deserved.
But not after Saturday night.
And thankfully, Miami is over, too.
The Bulls looked like a different team. Amarri Jackson wasn’t present, Andre Hall had to take a seat and Pat Julmiste showed up but threw three interceptions.
And so it’s to the benefit of everyone wearing green and gold – and in this case, solid white – that Miami has left the Big East. They moved to the ACC in 2004, and it’s paying dividends on top of incentives, plus a little on the side for both teams.
Miami is still in good shape until Nov. 5 when it plays at No. 3 Virginia Tech. USF is still undefeated in the Big East.
But as stated before, the game against the Cardinals is over. Time to get back to the roots. Time to remember the trailers.
Sure, the Bulls have grown from calves to bucking Brahmans as though they were on cattle steroids, but it’s that little-known, tucked-away Tampa secret that has spurred the growth spurt.
The Bulls can’t be a powerhouse just yet. They have to be like an outhouse, where everyone thinks they are crap.
It’s things like being 21 – usually more – point underdogs that have gotten the Bulls where they are, past big teams and then onto the greatest upset of the current college football season until No. 20 Alabama stomped on No. 5 Florida 31-3.
It’s things like having Amarri Jackson receive a sticker from College Football on ESPN on a helmet without the USF logo on it, then only to have television shows, Web sites and media guides – including the Hurricanes’ – have the old logo featuring the yellow Rocky head.
It’s having teams from the Big 10 not knowing a damn thing about you, and assuming you’re that team from Orlando that had a 17-game losing streak continued from a winless season.
Despite all that, USF prevailed Saturday night because of a few reasons.First, it gave up 17 points in the first quarter. Then the vastly improved defense held a lethargic Kyle Wright, a comatose Sinorice Moss, a dull Tyrone Moss and a slothful Greg Olsen to just 10 points, in which they forced four turnovers, including a Mike Jenkins’ never-give-up play when he punched out the ball from Olsen on a sure touchdown and gained a touchback.
Secondly, it’s just the Hurricanes. Yeah, they’re No. 9. But they lost to the worst FSU team since Bobby Bowden was skinny, which has its worst quarterback since God was seen wearing a Gators sweatshirt.
Even if the loss can be called embarrassing – and that’s a pretty sure bet – five words can salvage this weekend: It’s still a non-conference game.
All week long the national attention was too much of a good thing. Sure, the players walked with a skip, held up their heads and smiled in class while daydreaming.
“I think this game humbled a few players,” Hall mumbled in the rundown concourse of the Orange Bowl. He was right.
But the Big East has barely started. Teams on tap for the Bulls also did not fare well outside the conference.
Cincinnati lost. Syracuse lost. West Virginia and Pittsburgh – USF’s next opponent, which is on the road after a sorely needed bye week – both lost. With the three-way tie between the Bulls, Rutgers and the Mountaineers, anything is possible.
“A loss is a loss,” safety Johnnie Jones said. “You can’t take nothing away from a loss. It’s back to the drawing board for every game.
“We’re pretty much still contenders. (Miami is) an ACC team; we’re a Big East and they used to be in the Big East. They are a hell of a team, but they’re not in our conference.”
None of the players were happy with the loss. It was first time all season Jackson didn’t smile. Julmiste looked like he wanted to lay down in front of the team bus, and Hall stood outside the locker room older than Cooper Hall.
“Yes,” was his murmured answer to being asked about still winning the Big East. Then he almost smiled.
Only one Big East game is over.