An Early Look At South Florida
The Spartans will have their hands full in their home opener
San Jose State hosts a likely top-25 team in South Florida
South Florida aims to continue winning after last year’s 46-39 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Birmingham Bowl. The Bulls tied with the Temple Owls for first place in the American Athletic Conference’s East division, but a 46-30 loss to the Owls barred them from playing in the AAC Championship Game.
USF enters a new era as former Texas Longhorns and Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong becomes the Bulls’ new head coach — the fourth in school history. The Bulls will have quarterback Quinton Flowers who can be a legitimate Heisman as South Florida is going to be the frontrunner to claim the Group of Five spot in a New Year’s Six game.
This matchup should be an attention-grabber as South Florida contends with high expectations while beginning the season on the road. Both the Bulls and Spartans will look for their first win of the season.
Location: Tampa, Florida
Mascot: Rocky The Bull
Coach: Charlie Strong (first year at USF, 53-37 overall)
Conference: American Athletic Conference
2016 record: 11-2, 7-1 in conference
QB Quinton Flowers
Quinton Flowers is a very good dual-threat quarterback. Flowers finished last season with 2,812 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Flowers also set South Florida’s record for rushing yards in a single season with 1,425 yards on the ground. In addition, Flowers was named the 2017 College Football Performance Awards National Performer Of The Year.
He was also the first-ever Bull to be named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. If those number are in the same neighborhood then there definitely will be a chance he could head to New York City as a Heisman finalist.
LB Auggie Sanchez
Sanchez is a tackling machine with 120 last year — which was third in the AAC — including eight tackles for a loss and six sacks. He also made plays with three pass breakups and an interception.
South Florida isn’t going to radically fall off because they lost Willie Taggert to Oregon and now have Charlie Strong as their new head coach the Bulls offense is good enough to keep up what they did last. So, do not expect Strong to overhaul an offense that should be one of the nation’s best.
The question is whether or not the Bulls defense can remain elite under Strong, but that also should not be an issue as they have back over three-quarters of the production from 2016.
Last year, the Bulls cruised to a 56-20 victory over the Towson Tigers in its home opener. This year, the result likely won’t yield a blowout. It’s going to be a competitive game that comes down to the wire, but the Bulls can pull it off in the end.
South Florida 35, San Jose State 31.