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Davis says he's good to go for ECU

Speaking for the first time since being injured in the Bulls' season opener, WR Andre Davis said Tuesday he's "100 percent" after missing the last four games with a bruised sternum.
 
The senior, who set a program record with 31 consecutive games with a catch, never had missed a down in his collegiate career due to injury. But after landing hard following a diving catch in the Bulls' 36-31 victory against Western Carolina, the Jefferson High alumnus had trouble breathing normally and was forced to sit out to let it heal.
 
Now, Davis, who suited up in Saturday's 27-10 loss at No. 17 Wisconsin but did not play, said he expects to play against 22nd-ranked East Carolina in USF's homecoming game Oct. 11.
 
"Sitting out was hard for me, because I've never really sat out all my time being here," said Davis, who wore a red non-contact jersey during Tuesday afternoon's practice. "But I guess it was a good learning experience for me."
 
Coach Willie Taggart hesitated when asked whether Davis is fully healthy, but said there has been a positive change with the team since he returned to practice last week. Taggart said Davis didn't appear in the Wisconsin game because he wasn't yet back in football shape.
 
"You can see a difference in our football team just having his presence out there catching the football, running around and making some of the catches he normally makes," Taggart said. "You can see a lot he brings a lot of upbeat to our football team."
 
FOCUSING ON BASICS: Taggart reiterated Tuesday there will be an emphasis on practicing the basics and third-down efficiency during the bye week. The Bulls were 2-for-9 on third downs against Wisconsin and possessed the ball less than a minute in the fourth quarter.
 
"Technique and fundamentals, that's going to be something that we're not going to get away from," Taggart said. "Especially with a young football team, those are things we're going to have to continue to teach in order for those guys to get better.
 
"Third down is an issue for us right now, and we've got to understand that and the sense of urgency of converting on third down and how we as an offense can keep the ball and get more plays. And defensively, getting off the football field so we don't have to have as many plays."
 
ODDS AND ENDS: Senior DL Todd Chandler was back at practice after missing Saturday's game against the Badgers with a poked eye. ... Despite a weekend of travel issues that included a two-hour bus ride Saturday afternoon to La Crosse, Wisc., to catch their charter flight home, the Bulls landed in Tampa around 10:30 p.m. that night and arrived back to campus around 11. "It was great just to get back safe," Taggart said.
 
AUDIBLE: "Coach T said 'Here comes their jump-around, let's go jump around with them.' And we did. I looked over at (the Wisconsin) sideline and I saw a couple of them give us kind of a weird look and it was pretty cool and a good psychological moment there for us." -- Junior OL Thor Jozwiak on the Bulls taking part in th Wisconsin crowd's tradition of dancing to the song Jump Around by House of Pain at the end of the third quarter.

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AAC Notebook: Bearcats get Moore vertical

Former Jefferson High star Chris Moore had three TD catches -- of 60, 78 and 83 yards -- for Cincinnati in Saturday's loss at Ohio State.

Jamie Sabau | Getty Images

Former Jefferson High star Chris Moore had three TD catches -- of 60, 78 and 83 yards -- for Cincinnati in Saturday's loss at Ohio State.

Chris Moore's career night almost never materialized.

In the days leading to the Cincinnati junior's record-setting receiving performance Saturday at Ohio State, Moore was limited by an undisclosed muscle ailment that limited him to a day and a half of practice last week.

The soreness didn't deter him in single coverage. Moore, who teamed with USF's Andre Davis to help lead Jefferson to a state title in 2010, had three catches for three long TDs -- 60, 83 and 78 yards -- in the Bearcats' 50-28 loss to Ohio State. On the 60-yarder, he made an acrobatic grab over Buckeyes safety Von Bell on an underthrown Gunner Kiel pass.

His 73.7 yards per catch set an NCAA single-game record.

"I asked our receiver coach if he was ready to go on Friday, and he said, 'Coach, he's running good,'" Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville said Monday on the American Athletic Conference weekly coaches teleconference.

"Actually he had four TDs and one called back (illegal receiver downfield). ... Chris is an experienced receiver; he had a very good year last year. This year we have speed on both sides of the field...and it's just hard to double guys."

GRIEF IN BULK: For the second time in a year, the Bearcats found themselves waylaid by tragedy when Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore, a 19-year-old walk-on running back, was killed Thursday afternoon in a motorcycle accident.

The players were informed after Thursday's practice. Kennedy-Palmore's death occurred almost a year to the day after Bearcats OL Ben Flick died in an automobile accident in which two teammates were injured.

"You hate to have any experience in that kind of field, but we've got a little experience in going through it last year," Tuberville said. "It was obviously on the minds of our players going to play Ohio State in Columbus."

ANTI-BELICHICK: At least one football coach in New England isn't immune to candor.

In the wake of his team's 36-10 loss Saturday to Temple, Connecticut coach Bob Diaco lay bare his frustration on Monday's teleconference, citing the "game-changing plays" and "bad-luck moments" plaguing his 1-4 team. Case in point: two Owls defensive TDs -- including a 93-yard interception return -- and a Temple safety.

"We surrendered 16 uncontested points and we're not gonna beat St. Mary's High School doing that," Diaco said.

"The team's improving in so many massive areas I can't even tell you. And yet continue to get plagued by (the game-altering plays). ... And it's created a losing which you run the risk of it altering a culture that you've built and that you're working toward. We're managing and trying to stomp out any kind of deceleration with attitude and culture which becomes harder and harder as you continue to lose."

ODDS AND ENDS: Temple (3-1, 1-0) already has eclipsed its 2013 win total. ... East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill has authored a children's book entitled, "A Pirate's ABCs," an acronym for Avoid Bad Company. ... Cincinnati LB Jeff Luc has collected 18 tackles in back-to-back games. ... Memphis CB Bobby McCain, who had two interceptions in the Tigers' 24-3 loss at Ole Miss, now has 10 for his career. ... Three USF players -- Marlon Mack, Marvin Kloss and Rodney Adams -- have scored as many or points as SMU's entire team (12).

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Report: Bulls line up football dates with Texas, BYU (UPDATED)

USF wouldn't immediately confirm an ESPN report Monday that the Bulls had reached an agreement on a three-game football series with Texas, but later acknowledged a home-and-home deal with BYU for 2021 and '22.

ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported both deals, indicating the Texas-USF agreement calls for the Bulls to visit Texas in 2019 and '24, with the Longhorns coming to Tampa in '22.

USF announced late Monday afternoon it will host BYU on Sept. 25, 2021 and travel to Provo, Utah, for a Friday night game on Sept. 23, 2022.

The Bulls' return trip to Provo will be the fourth-longest (2,340) regular season journey in program history. BYU, winless in five previous trips to Florida, plays at UCF on Oct. 9 and will compete in the Miami Beach Bowl if it is bowl-eligible and doesn't qualify for the College Football Playoff or one of the New Year's six bowls. …

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Third-down efficiency among bye-week goals

In the wake of their most flag-infested performance of the season, the Bulls were set to commence bye-week workouts Monday night with penalties and third-down efficiency -- on both sides of the ball -- as the key points of emphasis.

"If we can get better in those areas I think we'll have ourselves a pretty good football team," Coach Willie Taggart said on the American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference earlier in the day.

Despite drawing a season-high 11 flags in Saturday's 27-10 loss at Wisconsin, the Bulls still are averaging the second-fewest penalty yards in the league (50.4). The 11 infractions were one more than they committed in the prior two games combined

Several extended drives for Wisconsin, which converted only one of seven third-down tries in the first half but went 4-for-5 in the second. As a result, USF had the ball for 39 seconds in the fourth quarter.

Nonetheless, Taggart said he's "encouraged" by his team in general as it nears the season's halfway point.

"Going up to Wisconsin and that environment and competing like they did, I was really impressed with those guys," he said.

"The more they continue to play games like that, the better they're gonna be. I think it shows our guys that they can compete with those players, those teams, and we've just got to get better at some of the little things and not beat ourselves."

UNDER THE LIGHTS: The conference announced Monday the Bulls' Oct. 11 homecoming game against East Carolina will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPNU. It will be the Bulls' third consecutive game -- and fourth this season -- to be broadcast on an ESPN network.

The 22nd-ranked Pirates (3-1), who host SMU on Saturday, lead the league in all four major offensive categories: total (581.5 yards per game), scoring (43.2), pass (392.0) and rush (189.5).

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN: Taggart said a "miscommunication" resulted in USF handing off to Marlon Mack for a 2-yard gain on third-and-goal from the 10 on its second possession Saturday. The drive ended with Marvin Kloss' 26-yard field goal.

"Actually we had a play and the quarterback (Mike White) had a mixed signal," Taggart said. "He didn't get the signal of the play that we had called and he thought he had another play and called the run play. ... Two plays before that, we fumbled the snap, then we ran on second down, and
the third play was miscommunication."

PAGING PRICE: Following an offseason spent dropping weight and gaining hype, junior TE Sean Price has yet to get untracked. Named to the Mackey Award watch list over the summer, Price has only four catches for 58 yards and no TDs through five games.

On Monday, Taggart said a couple of factors -- including periodic lack of protection and a failure to sustain drives -- explain Price's numbers.

"I think part of it is, some of these games not having the ball enough," he said. "This last ball game, he was a big part of it, but we didn't have the ball much."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls are set to practice through Wednesday, then have meetings and film study on Thursday before the coaches embark on a weekend of recruiting. ... Senior Chris Dunkley leads the conference in kick-return average (23.5 yards). ... According to a bye-week news release issued by USF on Monday, WR Andre Davis is "probable" for the East Carolina game.

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Full disclosure: My latest AP football ballot

After careful consideration and measurement of words, I've formulated a response to those who questioned my intellect when I kept UCLA in my top 10 earlier this month:

I respect your thoughts and the right to convey them. Disagreement, debate and discourse over such things are what makes our nation wonderful.

Oh, and this: I think the Bruins just scored again.

Validation's a wonderful thing.

The Bruins -- my darkhorse national playoff contender all along -- climb two spots on my ballot following Thursday night's road annihilation of Arizona State. The Sun Devils, meantime, join Penn State on the top-25 exit ramp, while Missouri and Kansas State climb back aboard.

South Carolina -- a 21-20 loser at home to Missouri -- remains on my ballot, barely. I typically don't like putting two-loss teams in the top-25 in September, but it's hard to ignore the Gamecocks' two quality wins (Georgia, East Carolina).

1. FSU
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. Auburn
6. Baylor
7. UCLA
8. Texas A&M
9. Notre Dame
10. Michigan State
11. Georgia
12. Ole Miss
13. Stanford
14. Nebraska
15. Oklahoma State
16. Mississippi State
17. USC
18. East Carolina
19. Ohio State
20. Missouri
21. LSU
22. Wisconsin
23. BYU
24. South Carolina
25. Kansas State

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Bulls set home-and-home with NIU

USF announced a two-year home-and-home football series Friday with Northern Illinois, finalizing -- for now -- the Bulls' non-conference slate for the next three seasons.

The Bulls host the Huskies on Sept. 10, 2016, and visit Dekalb, Ill., on Sept. 23 the following year.

Barring any sort of shake-up (i.e. a "Power 5" program buying out its contract with the Bulls), USF has all its four yearly non-conference dates booked through 2017. Earlier this month, the school announced a home-and-home agreement with Syracuse (for '15 and '16).

“We continue to build one of the most competitive non-conference schedules in the nation for our football program in the coming years,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “Northern Illinois ranks among the winningest programs in college football over the last several seasons and fits well alongside the challenging opponents we have previously announced.”

USF has won two of its three prior meetings with the Huskies, including a 27-3 triumph in the 2010 International Bowl in Toronto -- the Bulls' last postseason appearance. NIU has made six consecutive bowl appearances and has a Division I-record 27-game home winning streak.

USF Non-Conference Slate

2015
Sept. 5 Florida A&M
Sept. 19 at Maryland
Sept. 26 at FSU
Oct. 10 Syracuse

2016
Sept. 3 Towson
Sept. 10 Northern Illinois
Sept. 17 at Syracuse
Sept. 24 FSU

2017
Sept. 2 Stony Brook
Sept. 9 Illinois
Sept. 16 Wisconsin
Sept. 23 at Northern Illinois

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Taggart: Davis a game-time decision

Bulls coach Willie Taggart said Thursday the status of senior WR Andre Davis will be a "game-time decision" when the Bulls face 19th-ranked Wisconsin on Saturday in Madison.

Davis, inactive the last three games, has practiced this week for the first time since injuring his sternum after a diving catch against Western Carolina on Aug. 30. He took part in Monday night's non-padded workout, and suited up for Tuesday and Wednesday's practices. …

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Football report: Chandler predicts 'good day' for the Bulls

Based on the last two days of sound bites, USF's defensive players are packing confidence with their pullovers and light sweaters for this weekend's trip to No. 19 Wisconsin.

A day after MLB Auggie Sanchez said he looks forward to making the Camp Randall Stadium crowd "silent," senior DT Todd Chandler repeatedly said Wednesday he expects the matchup with the Badgers to be "a good day" for the defense.

And about those oddsmakers who list the Bulls as 34-point underdogs? "We live for stuff like that," he said. "Everybody's talking about what everybody else is gonna do to us, but it's what USF's got going on, what we're gonna do to them, so we love it."

Addressing the Badgers' behemoth o-line specifically, Chandler elicited respect, but suggested Wisconsin -- which averages 321 pounds across its front -- won't easily stifle his unit.

"They move pretty well, they stay fairly low for the most part," he said. "They're technique-sound, they're fundamentally sound, so it's gonna be a good challenge for us. It's gonna be a good challenge for them as well because we've seen some tendencies that we can work on and we can enforce.

"It's gonna be a good day."

INJURY UPDATE: For third consecutive practice, and the second in pads, senior WR Andre Davis (bruised sternum) suited up Wednesday and appears poised to return from a three-game absence Saturday. Technically, Davis remains day to day, but Coach Willie Taggart could update his status during Thursday's regular noon media teleconference.

REJUVENATED, AND RESTED: Defensively, the Bulls are coming off not only their most complete effort of the year, but their most efficient. Connecticut ran only 36 plays Friday in USF's 17-14 triumph, which defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said should carry over positively this weekend.

"You're still growing, it's still a work in progress," said Bresnahan, whose unit allowed only 145 total yards to the Huskies. "But when you play (36) snaps, you come into this game a little bit fresher, you come into this game with a little more swagger because you played well.

"But we've got so much to improve on in the details of our work...and we're just gonna stay conscious on what we can do to play our best game."

Bresnahan, who made a conscious effort to simplify things following the Bulls' dreadful effort in their 49-17 loss to N.C. State, said keeping things basic will be even more critical this weekend. LB Nigel Harris estimated his unit ran only "three main coverages" against UConn and minimized its inside blitzing.

"It's that old rule of thumb, if they beat you because they're just better than you, that's one thing," Bresnahan said. "But if they beat you because you didn't know what you were doing and you were standing around trying to figure things out, we've been (down) that road already once, and we're not doing that."

ODDS AND ENDS: QB Mike White continues wearing a small black brace on his fractured left forearm. ... Bresnahan said it's not a matter of stopping Badgers TB Melvin Gordon (8.26-yard career average per carry) but controlling him. "Gap integrity and the run fits, playing with a swarming approach where you get hats around the ball...playing with a fanatical effort, that's all so important to not letting him get yards after contact," he said. ... Bulls TB Marlon Mack's 31 carries (for 103 yards) against UConn were eight more than the previous high for a ball carrier in the Taggart era.

AUDIBLE: "We could play in a parking lot if we need to. That sounds cliche and coach-talk and all of that, but it's the truth." -- Bresnahan, who said he won't even discuss the magnitude of the Camp Randall crowd (capacity 80,321) with his players

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Bulls brace for Camp Randall crowd

Barring a Midwest malaria outbreak or a beer/bratwurst giveaway in Waukesha, Saturday's audience at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium will be the largest by far of the Willie Taggart era.

If Camp Randall reaches capacity (80,321), it would be the sixth-largest crowd ever for a Bulls game. The largest: 99,325 for the 2005 season opener at Penn State. USF hasn't played before 80,000 or more fans since defeating Notre Dame (80,795) on Sept. 3, 2011.

"I think you talk about it early in the week, let 'em know what to expect. And then just keep focusing on football, and what we have to do...because none of that really matters when you're out there," said Taggart, an assistant on the Western Kentucky team that lost 24-6 at Camp Randall on Sept. 29, 2001.

"You don't think about it much. I think the time it does matter is when they get loud and you can't hear. That's about it, but other than that, you don't really pay much attention to the fans until you make a play."

For some of the Bulls rookies, the crowd could represent a culture shock. Only eight days ago, USF played before the second-smallest home audience (11,599) in its history. The Bulls' 2001 contest against Liberty drew only 10,288.

Largest crowds in USF history
(all road games)

Opp.               Date          Att.       Result
Penn State   9/03/05   99,235  L, 13-23
Florida         9/12/10   90,612  L, 14-38
FSU             9/26/09   83,524  W, 17-7
Auburn         9/08/07   82,617  W, 26-23 (OT)
Notre Dame  09/03/11 80,795  W, 23-20

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Football report: Davis back at practice

Senior WR Andre Davis, sidelined since injuring his sternum in the Aug. 30 season opener, practiced Tuesday and could be poised to return for Saturday's game at No. 19 Wisconsin.

Davis, 13 catches and 62 yards shy of USF's career records in both categories, showed no visible limitations in kick-return and running drills during the 30-minute session open to reporters.

"Andre is getting better and better and better," said Coach Willie Taggart, who wouldn't go so far as to announce Davis will suit up Saturday. "Before you know it, he'll be back out there with us."

DON'T LOOK UP: Redshirt freshman MLB Auggie Sanchez isn't frazzled at the thought of playing in front of 80,000-plus fans at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium.

Sanchez said that he and several other Bulls making their first road trip will be focused solely on what's happening on the field rather than in the stands.

"That's going to be the biggest crowd we probably play all year," Sanchez said. "They're probably the best team we'll play all year. It's going to be nice to go up there and make them silent."

Senior OL Darrell Williams indicated that may be easier said than done. As a freshman in 2011, Williams said he couldn't help but marvel at the size of the crowd (80,795) during USF's trip to Notre Dame.

"There are times where the environment can affect us if we're not locked in, if we start getting penalties and we start getting backed up and hurt ourselves," Williams said. …

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Know the foe: Wisconsin

Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon (434 rushing yards, 9.1-yard average) is a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate.

AP photo

Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon (434 rushing yards, 9.1-yard average) is a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate.

A look at No. 19 Wisconsin, which hosts the Bulls on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium

Nickname: Badgers

Record: 2-1 (Wins -- Western Illinois, 37-3; Bowling Green, 68-17; Loss -- LSU, 28-24)

Coach: Gary Andersen (seventh season, 41-36; second season at Wisconsin, 11-5)

The breakdown: Wisconsin has won its last 31 non-conference games at Camp Randall, dating to 2003. ... Where to begin about the Badgers' brute-force offense? Behind a veteran line averaging 321 pounds, Wisconsin leads the nation in rushing (359.7 yards per game). Skewering that figure a bit was a Big Ten-record 644-yard outburst in Saturday's 68-17 romp of Bowling Green. ... Six-foot-1, 213-pound TB Melvin Gordon (431 yards, six TDs) is a bona fide Heisman candidate, but QB Tanner McEvoy (253 rushing yards, two TDs) is a zone-read dynamo. McEvoy, who arrived in Madison as a quarterback, switched to receiver and safety (27 tackles in '13) before returning to his original spot and winning a preseason QB derby against incumbent Joel Stave. ... Defensively, the Badgers have not surrendered a red-zone TD this season, and have held seven of their last 15 foes without an offensive TD. That said, LSU torched them for three big-play TDs (80, 36 and 28 yards) in the season opener. ... Former Plant High two-way standout Austin Hudson, who had 90 tackles as a senior in 2013, is logging limited action (two tackles) as a Badgers true freshman safety.

Taggart's take: "I haven't seen a flaw in (Gordon) yet, other than last week he put it on the ground once. ... He's a phenomenal athlete. He's really, really talented. You can see why he's getting a lot of Heisman watch and all the hype. He's everything he's hyped up to be. He's big, he's strong, he  has great vision, great feet, he's patient. EVerything you want in a back, he has it."

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Conference honors Ciabatti

Bulls junior P Mattias Ciabatti, who pinned five of his six punts inside the Connecticut 15-yard line Friday night, has been named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.

A Hillsborough High alumnus, Ciabatti averaged 41.3 yards -- including a 61-yarder -- on six attempts despite operating in a steady rain. As a result, UConn began all of its possessions inside the 25 (9, 5, 12, 9, 3, 25) following his punts.

"Ciabatti was unbelievable," Coach Willie Taggart said Monday. "To punt the ball like he did in those conditions was big-time. He didn't flinch; he pretty much put the ball where he wanted to, and that was really good to see."

INJURY UPDATE: Taggart wouldn't say Monday whether WR Andre Davis (bruised sternum) would return for Saturday's game at Wisconsin, but indicated the senior captain is "getting better." Davis has missed the last three contests but has joined his fellow captains at midfield for the coin toss
before each game.

"Hopefully we can get him to run around and get back out on the football field with us here soon," Taggart said. "But he's getting better day by day."

'WOW' TO WISCONSIN: Taggart's breakdown of Wisconsin's 68-17 rout of Bowling Green on Saturday provided quite a rush: 644 yards' worth.

The Badgers' rushing total was a Big Ten record. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of that figure was fourth-year junior TB Melvin Gordon (253 yards, five TDs), who had 179 yards by halftime.

"You watch that film and you're like, 'Wow.' You hope the football gods are with us on Saturday," Taggart said.

"That was an impressive showing by those guys. Our defense is going to have to play their A-game. We're going to have to be a disciplined football team and get a lot of hats to the ball. That's gonna be important, and playing with a low pad level and getting a lot of guys to the ball and tackling Gordon. He's a heck of a runnig back."

ODDS AND ENDS: With only one-third of the season in the books, USF needs only three more offensive TDs to match last season's total (11). Its six rushing TDs are two more than it had all of last season. ... Freshman TB Marlon Mack enters the Wisconsin game 12th nationally in rushing (125.5 ypg). ... In the wake of its stout effort against UConn, which didn't convert a third down, USF has improved from 100th to 60th nationally in total defense (376.3 ypg). ... Taggart's lone previous trip to Camp Randall Stadium occurred on Sept. 29, 2001, when he served as co-offensive coordinator for a Hilltoppers team that fell to the Badgers 24-6. It was WKU's first road trip after 9/11.

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Full disclosure: My AP football ballot

This week's ballot bids adieu to Missouri, Cincinnati and Kansas State, and heartily welcomes Mississippi State, East Carolina and Penn State.

FSU remains at No. 1 because the 'Noles found a way to win -- or Clemson found ways to lose -- without Jameis Winston. Again, I'm not big on style points; beat a quality foe with your backup QB and you're not likely to slip a centimeter on my ballot.

Farther downward, I'm convinced about Mississippi State and ECU, but no longer sold on Cincinnati. The Bearcats (2-0), No. 21 on my preseason ballot, have surrendered 927 total yards to Toledo and Miami (Ohio). Cincy's tumble has nothing to do with style points; it's about the Bearcats' inability to tackle.

In their place is Penn State, bereft of a big win but visibly poised for a return to national prominence under James Franklin.

1. FSU
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. Auburn
6. Baylor
7. Texas A&M
8. Notre Dame
9. UCLA
10. South Carolina
11. Georgia
12. Michigan State
13. Stanford
14. Ole Miss
15. Nebraska
16. Mississippi State
17. Arizona State
18. East Carolina
19. Oklahoma State
20. Wisconsin
21. USC
22. BYU
23. Penn State
24. LSU
25. Ohio State

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UConn-USF: Click here for all the coverage

Taking a cue from USF's performance Friday against UConn, we've put everything together for at least one night.

Our entire Huskies-Bulls postgame package can be found on the ensuing links. First, the game story from USF's 17-14 win, which marked the eighth consecutive time this matchup has been decided by seven or fewer points.

And our game notebook leads with a closer look at Lakewood High alumnus Rodney Adams' first college TD catch (and another pass he'd like to have back). 

Additionally, Tampa Bay Times correspondent Jeff Odom raises a few talking points (including another inexcusable snafu by a game official). And for good measure, we provide video of post-game interviews with Adams and QB Mike White.

 

 

 

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Taggart audibles, will call more plays

Less than a month after relinquishing most play-calling duties to his offensive staff, Coach Willie Taggart said Thursday he'll have more input when the Bulls (1-2) host Connecticut (1-2) in both teams' American Athletic Conference opener Friday.

Before the season, Taggart tabbed coordinator Paul Wulff and quarterbacks coach David Reaves to be the team's primary play-callers so he could focus on managing other facets of the game.

But with the Bulls' offense ranking near the bottom of Division I in multiple categories including pass offense (113th), total offense (113th) and scoring offense (96th), Taggart said he needs to step back into the decision-making process.

"I'm going to be a little more involved in (play-calling)," Taggart said. "I think all our guys do a good job of studying and putting the game plan together and they rely heavily on each other. But I'm getting back in it and I'm going to help out a lot to try and do what we can to get our offense going."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Taggart said OL Thor Jozwiak (shoulder, toe) and RB Darius Tice (sprained knee) will play against UConn.

Additionally, senior WR Andre Davis, who will miss his third consecutive game with a bruised sternum, will "definitely" return this season, Taggart said. "It's an injury that heals with time, but (Davis) will be back sooner rather than later," Taggart said. "It will be good to get him back."

O-LINE READY: With the return of Jozwiak, Taggart is confident the offensive line will bounce back against the Huskies.

Though mum on the possibility of any personnel changes, Taggart said there was a different attitude in practice this week, which he hopes will translate to the game. With Jozwiak out, the Bulls have surrendered five total sacks the last two games.

"They responded well (at practice)," Taggart said. "I think they were ticked off and I wanted them to be ticked off, but I don't think that's a response I want to get just in practice, because they've been practicing well. I want them to respond in a game...like they're capable of." …

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