Mocs, like Bulls, know pain of close losses well
As much as USF suffered through hard losses last season, taking three on the final play and a fourth with 12 seconds left, the Bulls' opening opponent, Chattanooga, might have actually had a tougher 2011.
The Mocs lost five I-AA games by a combined 12 points, including three by the exact same score, 28-27. Late heartbreaks? Chattanooga lost 14-12 to Appalachian State on a missed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, lost 28-27 to Georgia Southern on a missed two-point conversion with 1:44 left, and led by 13 points with nine minutes to play against the Citadel and Wofford, only to lose late. Wofford won on a touchdown with 37 seconds left, and Furman was down 7-6 until they scored a touchdown with 2:06 to play.
So just as the Bulls went 5-7, Chattanooga went 5-6 in 2011, their only loss by more than a touchdown coming in the season opener, a 40-7 loss at Nebraska.
How lopsided might Saturday's game be? Chattanooga's last five games against I-A opponents have had an average score of 50-8, though there are plenty of big names on the list -- the Mocs faced Alabama (2009) and Auburn (2010) in their national championship runs, as well as Nebraska last season and Oklahoma and Florida State in 2008. The last time the Mocs gave a major program a scare was in 2007, when they trailed Arkansas just 14-9 with a minute left in the first half, though the Razorbacks pulled away to a 34-15 win.
The average score in USF's last five games against I-AA opponents? 57-9, the most recent win a 70-17 drubbing of Florida A&M last season. Some numbers for the Bulls to aim for: Cam Newton went 15-for-21 for 317 yards and four touchdowns -- in the first half -- in Auburn's 62-24 win in 2010, leading 48-14 at halftime. And for USF's defense, consider the 2009 Alabama team, which held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense and five total first downs.