USF-FIU: Kickoff tomorrow, links today
About 24 hours now until kickoff for Saturday's USF-FIU game, which still is not sold out because the Golden Panthers aren't selling single-game tickets. Fans can only get them by buying season tickets for $100 -- which is good for FIU's attendance the rest of the season. The Panthers averaged just 7,982 fans at their five home games last season, well under the NCAA's mandate of 15,000 for I-A programs.
There were 45 Division I-AA teams that averaged better crowds at home than FIU last season, and the only I-A program to average fewer fans at home last season was Eastern Michigan. Lots more to link to ...
-- As the No. 12 team in the country facing what is widely perceived to be the worst team in Division I-A football, USF needs to win convincingly this week -- Foxsports.com's Peter Schrager identifies quarterback Matt Grothe as this weekend's "Player Who Has No Excuse Not To Go Bonkers."
-- Here's the Associated Press game preview story, imported from France. And an AP story talking about UNC-Charlotte's push for a football program has lots of praise for USF. And Maikon Bonani got his name dropped in USA Today.
-- Central Florida has a big game at Boston College this weekend, but the Orlando Sentinel is still writing about the Bulls and the behavior of their fans. Columnist Mike Bianchi checks in, as does colleges editor Tim Stephens. ESPN.com's Heather Dinich is calling for a UCF upset this weekend, as is ESPN.com's Graham Watson -- USF needs every team on its schedule to be winning right now. As for the fan conduct, Kansas' student paper ran a letter from a USF alumnus, apologizing for fans' behavior.
-- The Ocala Star-Banner's Dwight Collins writes that USF is "quickly making a debate for a Big 4." The lack of tradition is a lot to overcome, he writes, saying that "the Bulls haven't been on the radar long enough to convince most the idea isn't a joke."
-- Lots of words to describe USF's win against Kansas, but shocking? Bleacherreport.com seems to think so. Speaking of that site, Louisville, just two games removed from losing 27-2 to Kentucky, is apparently in the Big East driver's seat. Wow. Big win to beat Kansas State, don't get me wrong, but the driver's seat?
-- ESPN.com's Brian Bennett picks USF to win 35-7 in Miami.
-- Former USF quarterback Carlton Hill, now at Division II Miles College in Alabama, hasn't played this season and said Friday he was told he had to sit out the year by school officials. He hasn't played since he was at Pearl River Community College in 2006; he said he's practicing with the team at Miles and will be able to play next season, though it looks like that 2009 would be his final year of eligibility.
-- One roster note for Saturday: true freshman receiver Daniel Bryant, who played in USF's opener against Tennessee-Martin but is still waiting for his first career catch, did not travel with the team. Again, not every member of the team typically makes it on the travel roster, but I'm not aware of any injuries, so this could be a send-a-message kind of thing ...