More links: Let USF-UCF week begin ...
Say what you will about the USF-UCF series, whether you understand USF's rationale in not continuing or you support UCF's desire to keep the game going, it's hard not to agree that it's made for a fun week of stories leading up to each meeting.
Last year's column from the Orlando Sentinel's David Whitley is a good example, and today, he writes a concession speech of sorts, saying he understands why USF isn't interested in playing the Knights. He just wants Jim Leavitt to 'fess up and be honest about why the series is ending. Fellow Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi, also having fun with this, checks in on his blog, saying "shame" on Whitley for not wanting the series to develop despite its onesidedness.
-- And apparently UCF couldn't pull off a moment of silence Saturday in tribute to Ereck Plancher, the freshman receiver who collapsed and died during a team workout this spring, according to the Sentinel's Iliana Limon. School officials said inclement weather threw off the pregame schedule, but just in case it rains Saturday, here's a tip: Just tell the public address announcer to say you're having a moment of silence -- they usually last about 10 seconds -- and nobody will complain about how you held up things to remember someone who died.
-- Florida Today writes that UCF is standing firm on wanting home-and-home series with BCS conference opponents, but hasn't been able to get schools like Mississippi, Louisville and -- yes -- Duke to sign off. I'm not sure how well USF will be able to command 2-for-1s from I-A teams, ever since the Bulls signed home-and-home deals with Western Kentucky and Ball State. The current 2-for-1s with Florida Atlantic and Florida International might be the exception to the rule, but perhaps another season of national rankings could change that.
-- The Lakeland Ledger suggests that UCF struggling with South Carolina State was a function of the Knights "holding back" in the opener. UCF's offense was "very vanilla," with just 16 passes and 59 runs, and the defense did very little blitzing. Then again, USF had 19 passes and 52 runs in its opener ...
-- Newsday's Arthur Staple picks USF to finish second in the Big East. That Louisville-Syracuse game is looking more and more like a game ...
-- ESPN.com's college football experts have made their bowl projections, and it's encouraging for Bulls fans. Mark Schlabach has USF playing Clemson in the Gator Bowl (he has them picking USF over Notre Dame, which goes to the Sun against Colorado), while Bruce Feldman has USF back in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Georgia Tech. Neither sets of picks have a local team in the St. Petersburg Bowl, opting for Connecticut-Memphis or Rutgers-East Carolina.
-- Rough opening weekend for the Big East, with the only four wins coming against I-AA opponents and rough losses to Bowling Green, Northwestern and Kentucky. If Rutgers loses to Fresno State today, you'll see a lot of people writing off the Big East nationally; there's big games this week, with Cincinnati facing Oklahoma, West Virginia getting a hot East Carolina team and Pittsburgh and Syracuse trying to right themselves against MAC opponents Buffalo and Akron.
-- The Newark Star-Ledger's Steve Politi writes that Rutgers will win the Big East. Then again, this is a guy who recently ate cicadas on camera. I'm not suggesting the two are related.