USF gets four national TV games in '08
The Big East released its 2008 football schedules on Monday, and USF has four national TV games, matching the most of any conference team.
Three USF games -- a Friday game at Central Florida on Sept. 5, a Thursday home game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, and a Thursday game at Cincinnati on Oct. 30 -- have been designated for broadcast on ESPN. A fourth game, the regular-season finale Dec. 6 at West Virginia, will either go on ESPN or ESPN2. Either way, no Big East team has more games on ESPN's main network than USF.
USF had hoped to finish the season at home against Rutgers with a national TV game on Thursday, Dec. 4, but now they'll close the season at West Virginia, as they did with a huge upset two years ago.
The Bulls have three bye weeks, but none coincide with their weeknight games, so they'll have short week leading up to the UCF, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati games. USF would have a full week off to prepare for the finale at West Virginia, a potential league championship game; the Mountaineers have a key rivalry game at Pittsburgh eight days before meeting the Bulls.
Between the N.C. State and West Virginia games, the Bulls will have a span of 70 days with only two road games, but those two -- at Louisville and at Cincinnati -- will come in a span of six days in late October.
The Big East can add ESPN or ESPN2 coverage to its Saturday games during the season, but here's the breakdown of national TV games per team. The West Virginia-Pittsburgh game is slated for a network broadcast on ABC, while Pittsburgh and Syracuse have games at Notre Dame that will be carried on NBC.
USF 4 (3 ESPN, 1 ESPN or ESPN2)
Pittsburgh 4 (1 ABC, 1 NBC, 1 ESPN, 1 ESPN or ESPN2)
West Virginia 4 (1 ABC, 2 ESPN, 1 ESPN or ESPN2)
Louisville 4 (2 ESPN, 2 ESPN2)
Cincinnati 3 (2 ESPN, 1 ESPN2)
Rutgers 2 (2 ESPN)
Connecticut 2 (1 ESPN2, 1 ESPN or ESPN2)
Syracuse 1 (1 NBC)
Here's the schedule, so you can print it and put it up on the fridge ... I'm throwing in a blog plug on the bye weeks, just for some NASCAR-style product placement ...
Sat., Aug. 30 Tennessee-Martin
Fri., Sept. 5 at Central Florida (7 p.m., ESPN)
Sat., Sept. 13 Kansas
Sat., Sept. 20 at Florida International
Sat., Sept. 27 at North Carolina State
Thu., Oct. 2 PITTSBURGH (ESPN)
Sat, Oct. 11 OFF (read blogs.tampabay.com/usf !)
Sat., Oct. 18 SYRACUSE
Sat., Oct. 25 at LOUISVILLE
Thu., Oct. 30 at CINCINNATI (ESPN)
Sat., Nov. 8 OFF (read blogs.tampabay.com/usf !)
Sat., Nov. 15 RUTGERS
Sat., Nov. 22 CONNECTICUT
Sat., Nov. 29 OFF (read blogs.tampabay.com/usf !)
Sat., Dec. 6 at WEST VIRGINIA (ESPN/ESPN2)
USF offers this quote from athletic director Doug Woolard: “We are pleased with the spotlight that ESPN and the BIG EAST have presented to our program. USF is on the rise and ESPN recognizes that we are an attractive team to college football viewers across the country. It appears the 2008 season is something the entire community of Tampa Bay will be excited about. We have a challenging home schedule for our fans, a wealth of national exposure and great opportunity to continue the growth of the USF brand.”
Thoughts? Comments? Your assignment, loyal readers, is to rank the four toughest games, finishing with the toughest ...