Oracle Insight: Top 5 days of the fall athletics calendar

Get ready, Bulls fans, because the Athletics calendar is once again full of chances to see USF student-athletes in action. Before classes end for winter break, you’ll have more than 50 chances to see the Bulls play at home in any of six sports. The Oracle outlines the five most anticipated dates of the fall.

No. 5: Dec. 1

There’s only one game on the docket on this day, but the potential importance of its outcome is enough to earn it a spot on this list. Coach Skip Holtz and the Bulls host West Virginia for the final game of the regular season in a nationally televised Thursday game at 8 p.m.

The Mountaineers are the media’s pick to win the Big East, just ahead of second-place Pittsburgh and third-place USF. If the Bulls can win their conference opener on the road in Pittsburgh and win the other conference games in which they’ll be favored, it could set up a de facto Big East championship game at Raymond James Stadium against West Virginia, with a berth in a lucrative BCS bowl on the line.

If that scenario occurs, USF could surpass its all-time home attendance record of 67,018, set in 2007 when the Bulls beat the Mountaineers on their way to the No. 2 spot in the national polls.

No. 4: Oct. 1

Bulls’ fans get a chance to see two sports on Oct. 1 – women’s volleyball and soccer.

At noon, the women’s volleyball team hosts Rutgers in the upper gym of the Campus Recreation Center for the home Big East opener. Last year against Rutgers, the Bulls lost the fifth set of a thriller 18-16, to drop the match 3-2.

A few hours later, Bulls fans can head to the new soccer stadium to see the men’s soccer team host Providence in a Big East matchup at 7:30 p.m.

Make sure to check scores from the women’s golf match against Penn State in the Nittany Lions Invitational in State College, Pa., and the cross country results from the Big East Preview in Louisville, Ky., which both take place earlier in the day.

No. 3: Nov. 23

The volleyball and men’s basketball teams will both be in action the day before Thanksgiving.

Coach Claire Lessinger leads the Bulls volleyball team against Florida A&M in a 1 p.m. midweek match near the end of the season. USF has beaten the Rattlers in each of the last four seasons.

USF fans can then head downtown for a nightcap when the men’s basketball team hosts Georgia Southern in the St. Pete Times Forum at 7 p.m.

No. 2: Oct. 22

The Homecoming game is a special occasion every college football season, and this one will be no different. USF takes on Cincinnati in a traditional noon kickoff at Raymond James Stadium.

USF won a 38-30 shootout on the road against Cincinnati last season for its first ever road victory against the Bearcats. Last season, USF was a Homecoming favorite against Syracuse, but fell 13-9 to the Orange.

Coach George Kiefer and the men’s soccer team also sees action on this day, hosting Villanova in a Big East conference match. The Bulls played out a scoreless draw against the Wildcats in Philadelphia last year.

No. 1: Sept. 3

The opening Saturday of college football season will be a busy day for Bulls’ fans.

USF opens its season in South Bend, Ind., against tradition-rich Notre Dame in an important nonconference clash. Holtz returns to his alma mater and the place where he began his coaching career under his father, Lou.

Kickoff against the Fighting Irish is set for 3:30 p.m., with the game televised nationally on NBC.

Also on this day, as part of the USF Volleyball Invitational, the Bulls host matches against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Bowling Green at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

USF fans can satisfy their sports appetite by catching these matches before and after the big game.