Bulls get 4 weeknights in 2011 football schedule
The Big East has released its 2011 conference football schedule, and USF has four of its seven games on weeknights, including two home games to finish the season against Louisville and West Virginia.
The Bulls open their season on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Pittsburgh, then have a week off before traveling to Connecticut on Oct. 15. The Bulls' first home conference game is Oct. 22 against Cincinnati, then after another week off, they travel to Rutgers on Nov. 5, with a short turnaround to another road game at Syracuse on Nov. 11. After a nonconference game against Miami on Nov. 19, the Bulls have another short week before playing host to Louisville on Friday, Nov. 25 (day after Thanksgiving), then finishing the season with another short week leading to a home game against West Virginia on Dec. 1.
The finale against West Virginia could have BCS implications, as the Bulls and Mountaineers are expected to be picked among the Big East's preseason favorites. The schedule isn't particularly kind to USF in terms of the placement of the two bye weeks -- none of the four weeknight games come after a bye, which is to say the Bulls will have four conference games with less than a week to prepare for them. That's offset by the fact that in all four games, USF's opponent has the identical number of days after its previous game, so the prep time is even each tim
In fact, the byes will give USF distinct advantages in preparation for two key Big East games -- the Bulls have 16 days to prepare for Connecticut (which has just seven, immediately after a game at West Virginia) and 14 to prepare for Rutgers, which has the normal seven days to prepare for the Bulls.
USF has the most weeknight conference games of any Big East team -- Pitt is next with three, then Louisville and West Virginia with two, Rutgers, Connecticut and Syracuse with one, and Cincinnati with zero. USF has two of the Big East's three Thursday night ESPN broadcasts -- the opener against Pittsburgh and the finale against West Virginia.
From a weather standpoint, USF caught breaks for the second year in a row -- the final two league games are at home, and even the last road game is at Syracuse, so the Bulls will be in a dome, making their last northern trip at Rutgers on Nov. 5. Here's the full schedule, home dates in bold:
Sat., Sept. 3 at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., NBC)
Sat., Sept. 10 Ball State
Sat., Sept. 17 Florida A&M
Sat., Sept. 24 UTEP
Thu., Sept. 29 at Pittsburgh (8 p.m., ESPN)
Sat., Oct. 15 at Connecticut
Sat., Oct. 22 Cincinnati
Sat., Nov. 5 at Rutgers
Fri., Nov. 11 at Syracuse (8 p.m., ESPN2)
Sat., Nov. 19 Miami (Fla.)
Fri., Nov. 25 Louisville (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
Thu., Dec. 1 West Virginia (ESPN)