Can Holtz solve USF's Big East road woes?
Working on a big Skip Holtz feature for Sunday's paper, and I've been doing some research on how his teams have fared on the road, given that USF has had particular trouble finding wins on the road in the Big East, well, at least when not at Syracuse.
Take away three wins at Syracuse, and the Bulls are 3-12 on the road against the rest of the Big East, including six losses in a row -- the last time USF got a road win other than at Syracuse was at Pittsburgh in 2007. There are three such road games in Big East play this season, with games at Cincinnati and Louisville, where the Bulls are a combined 0-6 since 2004, and a tough game at West Virginia.
Holtz's East Carolina teams were outstanding on the road in Conference USA, going 10-3 in the past three seasons, even winning a conference championship game at Tulsa in 2008. His worst conference road record in five seasons at ECU -- 2-2 in 2005 and 2006 -- still matches USF's best conference road record in the same five-year span.
However, Holtz's first three road games at USF are all doozies -- at No. 3 Florida, at No. 24 West Virginia and at Cincinnati, which could easily be ranked when the Bulls come to town. There's precedent for Holtz teams needing a little time before they start winning on the road -- in his first head coaching job at Connecticut in 1994, the Huskies lost their first four road games, then went 15-8 on the road the rest of his time there. Even his stint working under his father Lou at South Carolina was the same way -- six road losses to start their time with the Gamecocks, but by the third year, South Carolina went 4-2 on the road, including road wins against ranked opponents in Georgia and Mississippi State.
Given that USF's toughest games are on the road this season -- don't forget the trip to Miami in November -- even two road wins could be seen as an accomplishment, given that the Bulls will likely have to beat a ranked team to pull that off.