USF-UNC aftermath and more ...
I'm hearing lots of griping about the play on the main page at tampabay.com, giving the top story to Florida's win at Mississippi and not to the Bulls' home win against North Carolina.
First, I'll remind you guys that any time you have a comment about the Times' USF coverage, good or bad, on the blog or in the paper, I'd encourage you to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, which goes directly to our editors in sports. I'll go ahead and give you the arguments they'll make: Florida is the defending national champion, and they had a more compelling game in a conference game against a better opponent on Saturday. Gainesville is farther away than Tampa, yes, but there's still more interest in the Gators in the Tampa area, and local TV ratings will continue to show that.
(Morning update: USF dominates the front page of our COLLEGE FOOTBALL section, with big photos of Amarri Jackson and Matt Grothe.)
You're going to see a lot of prominent stories about USF-West Virginia in the next five days. There's unprecedented interest in USF football, but beyond the Bulls' first game as a ranked team, there wasn't much news to Saturday's game. They were expected to win by two touchdowns and exceeded those expectations, but it didn't make for a particularly exciting game. We can debate this on the comments here, or you can send e-mails as I'd mentioned above. Other USF-UNC observations:
-- A few links to stories in Sunday's paper. You can read my game story, John Romano's column, correspondent Brendan Galella's sidebar on USF's defensive backs and a notebook, too, plus Daniel Wallace's photo gallery. And here's the News & Observer story that got USF's defensive backs fired up to shut down UNC's big three receivers, who totaled just 60 yards Saturday.
-- Again, the balance of USF's offense is impressive. As was the case against Elon, Matt Grothe hit 10 different receivers, and five different runners had rushes of 10 yards or longer. Take away the lost yards, and it's 225 yards rushing, 234 passing. To be able to rest starters at the end of this game is a big help with the short week ahead.
-- In its last 17 games, USF has played five games against teams from North Carolina. In the same span, they've played just two teams from Florida. Speaking of geography: Saturday's loss was UNC's 18th straight outside its home state, going all the way back to Arizona State in 2002.
-- I'm still flabbergasted at the Subway promotion: if the Bulls get 100 yards of total offense, every fan gets a free 6-inch sub by showing their game ticket. Where's the intrigue there? The all-time low in 116 games for USF is 126 yards. It'd be less of a lock to say "if the Bulls score 1 point, free sub" -- at least the Bulls have been shut out once, albeit not at home. Laughable to begin with, but then for the PA announcer to wait until the third quarter to say that "USF just went over 100 yards" is just silly.
-- George Selvie has been amazing in the first three games, but he has enough sacks that I'm scrutinizing whether he should be credited with all of them. He got credit for three Saturday, but if you have TiVo at home, check out the play with 9:47 left in the third: T.J. Yates has already been hit by three USF defenders and is diving for a loss, when Selvie hits him. He was on the way down, and Selvie just got the last touch on him. It's just not a solo sack. If you think I'm wrong, drop in a comment.
-- I think I might stop over at the Sun Dome late Sunday night, just to get a sense of the atmosphere as students camp out for the wristbands that will get them into the student section for West Virginia. There's Krzyzewskiville, and then there's Leavitt-town.
-- Ranking guess? I'm going to say 20th, as the Bulls should be able to slide past No. 16 Alabama, No. 18 Louisville, No. 20 Texas A&M, who all lost this week. Oh, and from the cool technology department, ESPN2 will have an overhead camera -- the one that seems to hover over the line of scrimmage -- for Friday's USF-West Virginia broadcast. I keep waiting for somebody to hit that thing with an errant pass or punt.