Taggart: Bulls in the midst of conference title push

Once again, USF will need a Temple loss down the stretch of the season to claim the East Division. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

Coming out of its bye week, USF is looking to mimic the run it had to end last season and finish out the year, winning the last three regular season games.

In 2015, the Bulls finished the season winning seven of their final eight games after starting 1-3. In their final three games last season, the Bulls outscored opponents by 100 points.

With Memphis — a team USF coach Willie Taggart has not beaten in his three-year tenure at USF — SMU and UCF left on the schedule, Taggart is hoping to repeat the run, only with a different result.

“We have ourselves in the midst of things,” Taggart said on the weekly AAC coaches’ teleconference. “We kind of stubbed our toe in the loss to Temple, which we knew we couldn’t do, but it is what it is. 

“The only thing we can control is the next three ball games, starting this week against Memphis.”

Despite beating Temple in 2015, finishing with only two conference losses, a late-season loss to Navy put the Bulls at home watching the inaugural conference title game, from the comforts of Tampa while the Owls got their shot at the AAC crown.

So far, this season is shaping up similarly.

If USF wants to make it into the title game, its only hope relies on a Temple loss. 

Even if the Bulls win out, which they are favored to, they will once again be watching, rather than playing, if Temple also runs the table.

With no margin for error down the stretch, Taggart is stressing the importance of each game going forward. 

“Being a champion, you have to come ready to play each and every week because that one week you decide not to show up, that team will put it to ya,” Taggart said. “You really have to come locked in each and every week.

“I think last year we started with a young football team coming together. This year, I think you see a little bit more mature football team. Guys have played a lot of football together and it’s paying off for us.”

Injury status: Kicker Emilio Nadelman left the game against Navy on Oct. 29 with a quad injury. According to Taggart, he could be back kicking for the Bulls on Saturday against Memphis, but will “know more later in the week.”

Safety Devin Abraham is back at practice after having pins removed from his surgically repaired hand, Taggart said he should be on the field Saturday.