USF finally has its shot at one of the “Big Three” in Florida, playing Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium at noon Saturday – by far the biggest non-conference game in school history.
Bulls fans have purchased nearly 12,000 tickets – a school record for away games – and plan to take over Tallahassee.
Despite the excitement and support, USF’s task got a bit tougher this week.
On Sunday, senior quarterback Matt Grothe was diagnosed with a torn ACL and ruled out for the remainder of the season. Redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels, who contributed 294 yards and three touchdowns in place of Grothe, will make his first career start in a very hostile environment.
Daniels made a number of impressive plays against Charleston Southern. It was Charleston Southern, though.
The Tallahassee native will be up against a very fast FSU defense. Some of the scrambles might not be as open.
It’ll be tougher for the entire USF team, as FSU blasted then-No. 7 BYU 54-28 Saturday.
Florida State does have a loss this year, but it was to Miami while time expired in the first game of the season. The Bulls haven’t been tested yet in their 3-0 run, beating Wofford, Western Kentucky and CSU, which were a combined 18-18 last season.
The three schools USF defeated have a combined enrollment of 23,890, approximately half the number of students at the University. It’s no surprise that USF won by an average of 38 points and faced little resistance from each team.
The reality check needs to set in that the first three weeks have been relatively easy, Grothe is out and it’s up to Daniels to lead in USF’s schedule, where every game from now on is against a ranked opponent or a Big East foe.
Players and coaches have repeated that it’s not about FSU, Miami or Florida – it’s about winning the Big East.
Students have been waiting for this moment. The cupcake games are out of the way, and the critical game is here. On Saturday, the world will really see how good USF is.