USF is 6-0.
It could not have a better record at this point in the season if it wanted to.
The Bulls are even ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the Coaches Poll. They’re also one of only eight remaining undefeated FBS teams. It’s pretty hard to be upset with where USF is right now, just based on records and standings.
But it’s taken come-from-behind efforts in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech (3-4, 1-3), Illinois (3-3, 1-2) and Tulsa (1-5, 0-3) to get half those wins. Plus, slow starts against ECU (2-4, 0-3) and UMass (2-5) have made five of the Bulls’ six wins less than straightforward, especially given the questionable strength of opposition.
The only comfortable win came Week 1 against FCS Elon and even that left a few things to be desired, with coach Charlie Strong saying that his team “didn’t put [Elon] away” in its 34-14 win.
No matter who USF played Saturday, the slow starts would have had to stop because playing with fire eventually leads to getting burned. But there’s another reason that a poor performance this week would be inexcusable.
UConn, this week’s opponent, is comedically horrible.
An SBNation article published Oct. 8 said the Huskies could wind up with college football’s worst scoring defense since World War I.
The same SBNation piece points out that UConn has given up more than 53 points per game through its first six games. The last team to give up more than 50 points per game through an entire season was Louisiana-Lafayette in 1997 and the second most recent was Stanford — in 1918.
There is no excuse for USF not to show up and steamroll a very bad UConn team under the bright lights of a prime-time homecoming game.
Seriously. Whatever you think about offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s game plan — and, based on tweets from USF fans during the Tulsa game Friday, it’s safe to say everyone has an opinion — it shouldn’t have any problems against a hapless UConn defense.
UConn is 125th in the nation in pass defense, 128th in rushing defense, 129th in total defense and 130th — out of 130 teams — in scoring defense. The Huskies are 124th in the nation in takeaways as well.
Oh, it’s USF’s defense you’re worried about?
Whatever your thoughts on the defense Brian Jean-Mary runs — again, just check Twitter if you need some — the Huskies are 121st in scoring offense, 91st in total offense and 117th in the nation in turnovers allowed. Even if it plays at half-capacity, the Bulls’ defense should look like it’s firing on all cylinders Saturday just because UConn is that bad.
This needs to be an Alabama-style rout. Not just to erase the poor starts out of recent memory, but because it’d be incredibly difficult to justify calling the Bulls a top-tier football team if they struggle against a team that is just downright embarrassing the AAC in its quest to be recognized as a Power Six conference.
If USF plays like the team it is capable of being, there should be no need for excuses after this game. There should only be smiles and a look ahead to an incredibly tough game against Houston on Oct. 27.