It's a strange thing, figuring out an AP Top 25 ballot while in the waiting area of a county jail. Can't write as much about my ballot this week as it's been a busy morning, but some tough calls to make in sorting out this weekend's high-scoring games.
First, where to put Washington? Direct results say they should be ahead of Stanford, which should be ahead of USC, but the Huskies lost 41-3 to an LSU team that was tested far more by Auburn, and for that matter, Towson. I put the Huskies 15th, making them the second-best one-loss team, with Stanford just behind and USC two spots behind them. For voters who have the Trojans higher, I'll ask why: Their best wins are mediocre games against Syracuse and Cal, and their loss looks worse than it did two weeks ago.
Why is Florida ahead of Georgia and South Carolina? Better wins. The win at Texas A&M looks stronger now, and UF's 37-20 win at Tennessee looks more convincing than Georgia's 51-44 slugfest. And Georgia's 48-3 dismantling of Vanderbilt stands out next to South Carolina's 17-13 win, even if that was on the road. …Full Story
TAMPA -- USF sophomore receiver Chris Dunkley was suspended indefinitely by coach Skip Holtz on Sunday, following his arrest Saturday night just two hours after the Bulls' loss to No. 4 Florida State on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence battery.
"Our players have an obligation to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner on and off the field," Holtz said in a statement. "Due to the serious nature of this matter, we have suspended Chris indefinitely from all team activities."
Dunkley, 21, was arrested by Hillsborough County Sheriff's officers on campus at 11:23 p.m. Saturday and booked at 1:44 a.m. Sunday; as of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, he remained in jail, held without bond.
According to the arrest report, the charges relate to an alleged argument eight days earlier, when Dunkley did not travel with USF to its game at Ball State due to a knee injury. Dunkley was involved in a "verbal dispute" at noon on Friday, Sept. 21, with his girlfriend of three years in the off-campus apartment they live in when the argument escalated, according to the report. …Full Story
TAMPA -- The most pivotal -- and puzzling -- play of USF's 30-17 loss to Florida State was a perfect storm of problems coming together, leading to FSU scoring a defensive touchdown off a fumble by a backup quarterback on the final play of the third quarter.
To set up the scene, on the previous play, USF had seen quarterback B.J. Daniels scramble 20 yards to the FSU 47-yard line, only to see the run brought back by a holding penalty on freshman tight end Sean Price. Daniels took a hit to the head at the end of his scramble, and play was stopped long enough that officials required him to sit out one play, sending backup Matt Floyd out for a third-and-12 from the USF 23.
"Not sure exactly what happened," coach Skip Holtz said. "He just came over and he wasn't ready to go. I was like (whistles) time out. I told the official 'I need a time out. The young man is hurt.' They said he had to come out for a play. Even if they had said he could have gone back in, I probably wouldn't have put him in at that point. He was a little woozy after that hit he took on their sideline." …Full Story
TAMPA -- The loudest that a sellout crowd got in support of USF on Saturday night, and the closest the Bulls came to catching Florida State, came early in the second half, when the Bulls' defense forced a three-and-out and true freshman LB Tashon Whitehurst came flying in to block a Florida State punt.
"I was really just trying to go out for my seniors, to fight as hard as I can," said Whitehurst, who went to high school in Gainesville. "When I made the block, I was just so excited. I tried to pick it up. I love my seniors. The boys have great heart."
Whitehurst recovered the loose ball, and USF's offense started on the FSU 8-yard line. QB B.J. Daniels ran in for a touchdown to cut the FSU lead to 13-3, and Whitehurst's play ignited the sellout crowd, though the Bulls weren't able to capitalize on that momentum.
"That blocked punt was a great individual effort by Tashon Whitehurst," coach Skip Holtz said. "It certainly gave our football team some energy on that sideline."
FSU hadn't had a punt blocked by an opponent in nearly three years, going back to a 2009 game against N.C. State. …Full Story
TAMPA -- Playing to the biggest home crowd in the program's history, USF hung around against No. 4 Florida State longer than most fans on either side might have expected Saturday night.
The Bulls got as close as 13-10 in the third quarter after a blocked punt, but the Seminoles pulled away in the second half, getting out with a 30-17 victory before an announced record crowd of 69,383 at Raymond James Stadium.
"It was the kind of game I thought it was going to be. I thought South Florida would play their tails off and they did," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They played very physical. Our kids played hard, competed well, made enough mistakes not to put that thing away. Had some critical issues in the game, but it was a hard-fought game."
USF (2-3, 0-1 in Big East) would get no closer than 13-10 because FSU's defense clamped down, allowing 18 yards in the second quarter and 11 in the third, which ended with a fumble returned for a touchdown for a 30-10 lead. Three years after USF's 17-7 win in Tallahassee, the Seminoles (5-0, 2-0 in ACC) got their revenge on the Bulls' home field, though the sellout crowd had plenty of garnet-and-gold in the stands. …Full Story
Here is a gallery of photos from USF's game against Florida State.
[WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times]Full Story
USF's long-awaited home game with No. 4 Florida State is now just hours away -- the Bulls and Seminoles kick off at 6 tonight for an overflow crowd at Raymond James Stadium and national audience on ESPN. We'll be live-blogging throughout the game always, so make us part of your game experience if you're not there in person. ...
USF opened the weekend by inducting three Bulls legends into the USF Athletics Hall of Fame -- the late Lee Roy Selmon and basketball standouts Chucky Atkins and Jessica Dickson. Here's the writeup from USF's official site. USF women's soccer picked up a 4-1 win against Cincinnati on Friday night, while volleyball lost in four sets to Louisville. …Full Story
TAMPA -- When USF pulled off its 17-7 upset at Florida State in 2009, the Bulls were sparked by a pass rush that included three future draft picks on the defensive line, leading the defense to 12 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.
FSU hasn't been held to less than 10 points once in three years since, and as the No. 4 Seminoles come to Tampa for a long-awaited rematch, if the Bulls want any chance at another upset, their efforts have to start with improved play on the defensive line.
"I don't think we're playing aggressive enough up front," coach Skip Holtz said this week after his defense produced zero tackles for loss and zero turnovers in a 31-27 loss at Ball State. "I don't think we played with a physical nature up front."
USF's starting defensive line -- ends Ryne Giddins and Tevin Mims and tackles Cory Grissom and Luke Sager -- have combined for a total of 3.5 tackles for loss in four games this season. Giddins, a former Parade All-American from Armwood expected by many to have a breakout season, had 1.5 sacks in the first three defensive plays of the season against I-AA Chattanooga; he hasn't had any tackles for loss since. …Full Story
USF is preparing for just its second meeting with Florida State on Saturday at a sold-out Raymond James Stadium, but Bulls assistant Vernon Hargreaves knows the Seminoles well, having faced them nine times in his tenure as Miami's linebackers coach from 1998-2005.
"It was always a battle. Always," he said. "Some of the best football games you wanted to be around. My favorite one was probably the Orange Bowl in (January) '04. There were a lot of great players. That's probably as close to an NFL game as I've gotten to be involved with. A lot of (NFL) guys playing in it -- guys like Jon Vilma, Kellen Winslow, Vince Wilfork, some of those guys."
Hargreaves went 6-3 all-time with the Hurricanes against FSU, including a 16-14 in that Orange Bowl rematch, which was part of a five-game win streak against the Seminoles. He said he still points to that game to his current players …Full Story
USF's defense is preparing for a Florida State offense putting up gaudy numbers in its 4-0 start -- averaging 56 points and 574 yards per game -- but that's nothing new for Bulls defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who held the same role at Kansas State last year.
"You kind of saw those numbers every week," Cosh said of his Big 12 days. "When you have (Ryan) Tannehill, (Robert) Griffin, those quarterbacks in your league that you see all the time, (Brandon) Weeden and those guys, they're going to put up those numbers ... very similar to Florida State, and they've got the running backs behind them also. You look at the numbers, and they're a little more skewed to the running game. They've got two running backs averaging almost 10 yards a carry, so they've got the big-play threat with those guys you usually see just in your passing game. They've got it in both areas." …Full Story
As expected, USF has confirmed that Saturday's football game with No. 4 Florida State is a sellout, but the Bulls have taken the unprecedented step of opening a block of 500 standing-room-only seats in the south end zone plaza of Raymond James Stadium.
Those tickets, which are not attached to any seats, will cost $50 each and go on sale to the general public Friday at 9 a.m. through Ticketmaster.com. Up to this point, tickets had only been available to the public as part of a season ticket plan. FSU's first trip to play USF in Tampa will be the Bulls' fourth-ever sellout, following 2007 games against West Virginia and Central Florida and a 2009 game against Miami.
With the extra SRO seats, USF should be able to reset the program's home attendance record of 67,012, set in the 2007 game against West Virginia as the Bulls made their rise to No. 2 in the national rankings.Full Story
Times columnist Tom Jones writes about USF today, saying that Skip Holtz hasn't delivered on the promise and optimism created when he joined the Bulls in 2010. "He still has time to figure this thing out and get USF headed in the right direction," he writes. "But he needs to start soon. Right now would be nice."Full Story
You probably knew that USF coach Skip Holtz spent two years as a grad assistant on Bobby Bowden's staff at FSU, and you might know that his wife Jennifer is an FSU grad, having spent much of her time in Tallahassee as a Garnet and Gold girl, hosting Seminoles recruits.
But we have more on the special bond the Holtz family has with FSU -- why there were 80-plus Seminoles at the Holtz home for a special tribute this summer, and, somewhat amazingly, how Lou and Beth Holtz, now married 51 years, spent their honeymoon at Bobby Bowden's home in Tallahassee.
And as a bonus, here's Lou Holtz explaining how Skip wound up at Florida State, from our interview with him last summer:
"When he got done playing and wanted to go into coaching, the best thing to do is become a graduate assistant if you want to coach on the college level, which is the route I took (at Iowa). We wrote eight coaches. One of them was Vince Dooley at Georgia. Vince Dooley said he had a graduate assistantship for him in September (1987), so Skip graduated in December (1986). He's going to go to the Hula Bowl with us. I'm coaching in the Hula Bowl. Then he's going to tour Europe for a couple of months, while he's young. …Full Story