LOUISVILLE, KY – With just one game remaining on USF’s regular season schedule, Saturday’s 31-8 loss to No. 9 Louisville could be the beginning of a repeat of the way last season ended.
Sure, their chance at winning a Big East Championship was minute, but theoretically the Bulls were still in the hunt to finish atop the conference and possibly make it to a BCS bowl.
But just like last season when USF went on the road to face Connecticut with its Big East Championship hopes still alive, the Bulls came out flat and never had control of the game.
Losing to the Cardinals isn’t a shocker; in fact not many people outside of the team gave them a chance to take down Louisville. But just like last year against the Huskies, USF traveled up north in its second-to-last game of the season, and just like last year, the Bulls left any sign of being BCS worthy here in Tampa.
With the exception of the first three offensive drives for the Cardinals when USF’s defense didn’t give up a first down, the Bulls looked lifeless.
The highlight of the night for USF: a meaningless touchdown by Amp Hill that came in the fourth quarter when the damage had already been done.
A win would have been huge for the Bulls, but just showing up and putting up a fight would’ve been acceptable. And USF didn’t come close to putting up a fight.
Matt Grothe and the offense had the ball with first and goal on the Louisville’s seven-yard line midway through the first half, but a holding penalty set the Bulls back 10 yards, and the drive ended in a missed field goal.
Last season against Connecticut, USF had the ball with first and goal on the Huskies’s eight-yard line and a potential Big East Championship game ahead of them, but the Bulls couldn’t reach the end zone to take the lead.
Again, USF will have to face the Mountaineers to close out its season. And again the Bulls will be playing for an invite to a first-year bowl – this time the Birmingham Bowl – while West Virginia is still playing for a spot in a BCS bowl.
Finishing 7-5 and going to the Birmingham Bowl shouldn’t be considered a disappointing season. There are several teams in other BCS conferences that finish year after year without the six wins needed to play in a bowl.
USF is only in its second season in a BCS conference. A trip to a BCS bowl could happen in the near future, but expecting it right away is a bit too much for fans to ask.
However, its not too much for fans to ask the Bulls to show up to West Virginia and at least battle the Mountaineers, otherwise USF could be looking at a repeat of last season – two straight losses to close out the regular season and a loss of momentum heading into the bowl game.