USF (5-2, 1-1) at Cincinnati (3-4, 0-2)When: Sun., 8 p.m. Where: Nippert StadiumTV/Radio: ESPN, 970 AM
It’s going to be quite a different atmosphere when the Bulls head to Cincinnati – not because they’re playing Sunday on ESPN as the only football game televised during primetime, but because of the weather.
It’s been in the hot and steamy 80s all week in Tampa, but once kickoff comes around at Nippert Stadium, it’s going to be close to the low 30s, and it might rain.
These are all factors for which coach Jim Leavitt said there’s no alternative but to prepare.
“Cumberland (in 1997) was very cold. The double-overtime win against (East Carolina in 2003) was freezing,” Leavitt said. “It doesn’t matter what the temperature is; you better be able to play. I can’t bring the cold air (to practice). I can’t bring a cold locker down here. I mean, what alternative do I have? I’m not too concerned about it.”
Any concerns that might arise stem from what happened in last season’s game against Connecticut. Game-time temperature was 27 degrees, making the Bulls 0-1 when the temperature is 40 or below. In addition, the Bulls are 2-1when the temperature is 50 or below, but players such as receiver Amarri Jackson want to change their fortunes in cold weather.
“They say we can’t play in the cold,” receiver Amarri Jackson said at Tuesday’s media luncheon. “We want to go up there and prove we can play in the cold. There’s not much else we can do here, where the weather is good, and practice and then bundle up (this weekend).”
USF will face a Bearcats team that held Louisville (6-0, 1-0) to just 23 points and an offense led by quarterback Dustin Grutza. The sophomore has throw for 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns. Cincinnati’s rushing game consists of Greg Moore, who has 385 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
USF, which has scored 10 touchdowns in the past two games, is led by Matt Grothe (460 rushing yards, 1,388 passing yards, 16 total touchdowns) and is helped by the return of running back Ricky Ponton.
The sophomore back had a career-best 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns against North Carolina on Saturday.
“You can see there was some energy there,” coach Jim Leavitt said following the 37-20 win Saturday. “You can see he’s a pretty good running back. Really helped us.”
Despite that Cincinnati is in last place in scoring offense in the Big East and in seventh place in total defense in the Big East, Leavitt feels both teams are fairly similar (though the Bulls are fifth in both previous categories.)
“(Cincinnati) plays with passion, they play with energy – a lot like our guys,” Leavitt said. “All of our guys. I see, really, two teams that are very similar.”
Oracle staff predictions:Sports Editor Mike Camunas: USF 28-10Asst. Sports Editor Kevin Smetana USF 34-13Editor in Chief Brad Bautista: CIN 21-20Montage Editor Tristan Wheelock: USF 27-14Copy Chief Allison Tiberia: USF 21-10Asst. Montage Editor Jessica Hartman: USF 21-7Asst. News Editor Suzanne Parks: USF 28-3Executive Editor Amanda Whitsitt: CIN 24-21Photo Editor Josh Corban: USF 24-17 Managing Editor John Calkins: USF 21-20Staff Writer Brendan Galella USF 31-17Online Editor Paul Willms: 24-20