USF still has plenty to play for

USF’s season may not culminate in a Big East championship, but traveling to play four-time national champions Miami should provide plenty of motivation for the Bulls to forget their disappointment by beating an in-state foe.

The Bulls, who are coming off a loss to Pittsburgh that all but ended their hopes of earning a first conference championship, look to avenge last season’s 31-10 loss to the Hurricanes knowing a win at Miami would help the profile of USF’s program.

“This would be a great opportunity for us to go head to head (with Miami), to step away from conference and that race and understand what we’re getting into as far as a game giving us national exposure because of the great reputation and football program Miami has,” said coach Skip Holtz.

The game will mark the fourth time in the last two years the Bulls will have squared off against one of the state’s ‘Big Three,’ which includes Florida, Florida State and Miami.

And while the Bulls look to establish themselves in the state for the long term, finishing out the 2010 season on the right note is more important to them right now.

“For future reference, it could be big,” said cornerback Mistral Raymond. “It could be critical. Right now, we’re focusing on the now factor to get a win within the season.”

After a win against Florida State last season, USF seemed poised for a run at a conference title, but stumbled in conference play.

The circumstances are reversed this season, with USF having little left to play for in its conference. But that doesn’t downplay what a win against Miami, which is 2-0 against USF, would mean.

“If you’re able to win a game like this, it will help you with a national reputation and the way you’re viewed as a program,” Holtz said. “Before we can be a part of ‘the Big Three,’ obviously we have to get to the point where we win some head-to-head contests. We’re also going to have to get to the point where year in and year out we’re competing for conference championships. We haven’t gotten to that point.”

A second straight big loss to Miami would be deflating for the Bulls from a confidence standpoint heading into next season.

“Right now, it’s more a pride thing,” quarterback B.J Daniels said. “We want to finish strong.”