With football just around the corner, South Florida and each of its opponents are preparing for the season and the challenges that come with it.
After an unsuccessful 2021 campaign with just one conference win, the pressure to win this year weighs the team.
This year, three of USFs contenders were ranked in the top 25 team AP polls, and nine qualified for bowl games. Here’s a look at what the Bulls are up against this season.
Vs. BYU (Sept. 3)
Kicking off the season, South Florida will face BYU on Sept. 3 at Raymond James Stadium. Finishing 2021 with a 10-3 record and being ranked No. 25, the Cougars are one of the more challenging opponents on the schedule.
Third time’s the charm is what the Bulls will be hoping for as they step on the field to take on the Cougars. Last season, South Florida put on a performance against the top tier team, coming up short in the 35-27 loss.The biggest confrontation the Bulls will face on the field is BYU junior quarterback Jaren Hall.
“He’s a dynamic quarterback. You can also tell he’s got great leadership. He’s got command of the offense when he’s out there,” Scott said. “He’s directing traffic and I think he has a complete game as a thrower. Also, he’s a big time threat as a runner.”
Hall started in all 10 games for BYU last season and finished with 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns with an efficiency rate of 156.1.
Vs. Howard University (Sept. 10)
For the first time in program history, the Bulls will play Howard on Sept. 10. Last season, the Bisons finished with a 3-8 record.
In their first game of the season, they faced the Alabama State Hornets on Saturday, falling 23-13. Heavily relying on their kicker, seven of their points were from field goals while the other six were from a late fourth quarter touchdown.
@ Florida (Sept. 17)
South Florida will be taking on the Gators for the second consecutive year. In their last two meetings, Florida dominated the Bulls 42-20 in 2021 and 38-14 in 2010.
NFL first round draft prospect sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson has made his way into the starting position since his arrival in 2020.
By 2021, Richardson had posted 556 passing yards with 462 rushing yards. With him coming into the starting role this season protected by the Swamps depth, USF must play with its best foot forward.
@ Louisville (Sept. 24)
After almost a decade without them in their schedule, USF will once again play Louisville. The last time the teams met was in 2013 where the Bulls lost 34-3. Louisville finished their season last year with an overall of 6-7 (4-4 AAC).
Starting quarterback Malik Cunningham is the only Cardinal quarterback to have nine completion passes of at least 75 yards and has a career total of 62 touchdowns and 7,889 yards.
Vs. East Carolina (Oct. 1)
USF will start conference play against East Carolina on Oct. 1. Beating USF at a 29-14 game last year, fourth consecutive starting quarterback senior Holtol Ahlers will be a player to keep an eye on during this game.
Ahlers not only gained over 3,000 passing yards but tallied on 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as well. In their 2021 campaign, Ahlers helped ECU finish with an overall record of 7-5 (5-3 AAC).
@ University of Cincinnati (Oct. 8)
Cincinnati will be the second AAC match of the season. Once again, this will be one of the more difficult games to play considering the team’s solid record of 13-1 (8-0 AAC) last season and 9-1 (6-0 AAC) the year prior.
Not only did they make it to the AAC semifinals, but they also took home four AAC awards.
Vs. Tulane University (Oct. 15)
In celebration of USF’s Homecoming Week, the team will play Tulane on Oct. 15 before the scheduled bye week the week after. USF lost to Tulane last year 45-14.
Tulane’s wide receiver junior Jha’Quan Jackson is one to keep in mind for this match as he finished the season with 1,003 all-purpose yards. Jackson has also been nominated for a 2022 watchlist. Tulane finished their season with the same record as USF (2-10, 1-7 AAC).
@ University of Houston (Oct. 29)
Entering his third consecutive year as a full time starter for the 2022 season, senior quarterback Clayton Tune from Houston is one of the six Cougars named for the 2023 Senior Bowl Watch List, putting some pressure for the Bulls’ fourth AAC game.
Houston finished 12-2 overall while winning all eight of their conference matches last season. South Florida had a close game with Houston ending in 54-42.
@ Temple University (Nov. 5)
Temple will be hosting South Florida on Nov. 5. Temple was the only conference game USF won last season in a 34-14 game.
The Owl’s have a new head coach Stan Drayton who recently announced that redshirt sophomore D’Wan Mathis will be starting his second consecutive year as quarterback.
Mathis is also in position to win a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award throwing over 1,200 yard and six touchdowns, making him a key player to watch out for.
Vs. Southern Methodist University (Nov. 12)
For their second to last home game of the season, the Bulls will be playing their Salute to Service game against SMU on Nov. 12.
SMU’s quarterback has also recently been nominated for the same award as Mathis. Tanner Mordecai threw 3,628 yards and 39 touchdowns for the Mustangs last season, making it another quarterback USF will have to focus on this season.
@ Tulsa University (Nov. 18)
South Florida will travel to Oklahoma to seek redemption against Tulsa University after last season’s 32-31 heartbreaker.
The Golden Hurricanes had a steady 2021 season with a 7-6 record, including their win over Old Dominion in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. With their seasoned starting quarterback Davis Brin returning for his final year of eligibility, USF will have to stay alert.
Brin had a total of 3,254 passing yards along with 18 touchdowns last season, making him a threat to the Bulls defense.
USFs quarterback must level with him along with defense being extra attentive to settle the upcoming match this year.
Vs. UCF (TBA)
Finally, the most anticipated game of the season will be the 14th match of the War on I-4 against USF’s rivals UCF. In the past five years, South Florida has lost all games.
Six players from the UCF team have been named to the 2023 Senior Bowl Watch List as well, including their senior quarterback John Rhys Plumlee who transferred from Ole Miss University in 2021. UCF’s overall record was 9-3 (5-3 AAC).
The date has not been finalized for this game yet but it will either be on Nov. 25 or 26. The official date will be released sometime in early October, according to USF Athletics.