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Is Saturday a trap game for USF? I think I've heard that maybe 200 times this week. If you get out your Field Guide to College Football Trap Games, Saturday's game against North Carolina has all the telltale characteristics of a trap game:

-- immediately after huge win that elevates trap-ee into unprecedented prominence

-- against seemingly inferior team that has losing record and low expectations for season

-- home team is a 14-point favorite, adding to threat of overconfidence; and of course ...

-- immediately preceding much larger game with much larger ramifications

You could argue that the game has too many traits of a trap game, and that alone makes it such an obvious trap game that it loses some of its trappy-ness. It's an unmarked police car with four sirens on top and the word "UNMARKED" spray-painted on the side of it. I agree that UNC is an underdog team that will rise up and surprise a far superior team at some point this season, but I don't know if this is the week they do that. I'm sure Butch Davis recognizes that a win this week will give his team a huge boost of confidence in conference play -- and avenge a home loss from last season -- but I think the Bulls have had two weeks to recognize that threat and prepare for it. Onto the links. ...

-- More Matt Grothe billboards! You've probably seen the one on 275 downtown near the I-4 exit, but have you heard of one in his hometown of Lakeland? The Ledger has a story on it, noting that Saturday's game is USF Lakeland Community Day, and the Bulls have never lost on USF Lakeland Community Day. Just more motivation for those Tar Heels, I say ...

-- Maybe the frenzied excitement about Central Florida's new stadium is getting a bit much. The Orlando Sentinel quotes an alum as saying that UCF's new stadium will help enrollment, saying that "a lot of the local people" who've been going to USF or FSU now "will take this school seriously and stay at home and get a quality education and a quality athletic program here." Seriously, nothing against UCF, but if you find me one high school senior -- just one -- who is sitting there with two acceptance letters on his dining room table and picks UCF because its brand-new stadium, I'll be very impressed. Will it help UCF football? Sure. Will it boost attendance? Definitely. But are kids really picking colleges based on football stadiums?

-- Really cool link to lets you see all 65 ballots in the AP football poll, including the Times' Brian Landman, who posts his ballot on his FSU blog every week and has the Bulls 18th. I count USF as still being unranked on 21 of 65 ballots, so there's lot more proving for the Bulls to do. There are USF believers among the balloters, though: six voters have USF ranked 15th or higher. 

-- My first newspaper job was at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and you won't find a nicer writer in my business than A.J. Carr, who turns to former Duke coach Carl Franks for insights into the Bulls as he previews Saturday's game. Here's to understatement: Franks concedes USF has "pretty good team speed." Carr brings up a good point -- might be a big day for Mike Ford, as UNC allowed Virginia's top rusher to go for 186 yards last week.

-- Really good story from Alan Dell in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on cornerback Mike Jenkins and how the memory of his teammate and friend, Javan Camon, is inspiring his strong play this season.

-- I'm a little bit scared of anyone who plays fantasy college football, but if you do, here's a start-'em-or-sit-'em guide, which tells you not to start UNC quarterback T.J. Yates this week. A look at the NCAA passing efficiency leaders shows Yates is ranked ninth. Rutgers' Mike Teel, believe it or not, is No. 1, ahead of some guy named Tim Tebow. Matt Grothe, despite no picks in his first two games, is 48th.

-- Soccer link! With Friday night's showdown with No. 2 Connecticut, Huskies coach Ray Reid, writing on UConn's official site, goes so far as to say his team "relishes the fact that we are underdogs at USF this week." He says USF is one of the top three teams in the Big East. I might pull a soccer doubleheader Friday, taking in my 4-year-old son Riley's game at 6 and then swinging over to campus.

Thoughts? Comments? I'm working up a chart on season-ticket sales for all eight Big East programs, but haven't heard back from Pittsburgh or Rutgers. Not to trivialize 20,000 season tickets, which is a big step for USF, but Cincy's the only school looking up at that figure. ...

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:38am]


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