Fresh off its first loss of the season at the hands of Houston, USF will look to avenge its defeat when it faces UConn on Saturday.
The Bulls (7-1), now unranked, can still make it to the AAC championship game and New Year’s Six bowl if they win out.
“When you have a team that plays from behind the 8-ball, you have a team that is hungry,” coach Charlie Strong said. “Now they know they’ve got to go to work and each and every week, we’ve got to get ready to go play.”
The Bulls were originally scheduled to face UConn on Sept. 9, but the game was rescheduled to Saturday because of Hurricane Irma. The Huskies now have a 3-5 record on the season and are coming off a 52-12 loss to Missouri last week.
During the game against Missouri, UConn’s No. 1 defensive back Jamar Summers will have to serve a 3-quarter suspension against USF, providing an opening for the Bulls offense to exploit. The suspension was a result of Summers taunting the intended receiver of a ball he intercepted against Missouri.
“It’s over with now, we can’t get it back,” UConn coach Randy Edsall told the Daily Campus. “So, we’ll just have to move on. All you can do.”
Though their loss to Houston was their first in over a year, the goal is to put the game behind them, according to Strong.
“The key thing is to focus on ourselves,” Strong said. “Only thing we can do right now is get ready for the game at hand against Connecticut.”
If anything, some Bulls are using the loss as extra motivation. The Bulls were the favorite to win the AAC in the preseason. Now, they’re the underdog.
“It gave us back our chip (on the shoulder) and gave us back that underdog vibe,” cornerback Deatrick Nichols said.
Though they may be considered the underdog when USF travels to face UCF on Black Friday, the Bulls are the heavy favorite for Saturday’s game in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies haven’t beat USF since 2011.
“After you lose, you have to refocus,” running back Darius Tice said. “You have to look back and see what went wrong. It definitely makes you want to go out and prove to the world, prove to your teammates ‘we got this’ and that it’s under control.
“When pressure is applied, it tends to bring the best out of you. So I kind of like when its pressure on us. When you see a player grow in pressure situations, that’s the kind of thing I look forward to.”
Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will be aired on ESPNU.
“I know the guys are gonna respond very well,” Strong said.