Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Colleges

USF Bulls hope to slay a giant in No. 4 Florida State Seminoles

TAMPA — USF's coaches and players have consistently talked about Saturday's game with No. 4 Florida State with great respect, but even as two-touchdown underdogs at home, they've also spoken with confidence that they've been here before, lining up against an elite opponent.

"I don't know what the result's going to be, but we've been in this situation before," offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. "We played a pretty good Notre Dame team last year, played a pretty good Clemson team two years ago. … Two years ago, our first year here, Miami was like a top-10 defense when we played them that year.

"Our kids have seen some good defenses. It's not our first rodeo, so to speak. It's going to be a great challenge, but I think it's a great opportunity to find out where we're at."

With a nod to Politifact, Miami was 22nd in total defense and 27th in scoring defense in 2010, but yes, the Hurricanes did have the No. 3 pass defense in the country the year USF beat the Hurricanes in Miami.

"We do some things pretty well on offense. We're going to find out if we're ready to match up with the big boys," Fitch said. "We're going to have some matchups I worry about, but you know what, we've got some matchups I like, too. We're going to go out and play."

FSU is ranked No. 6 in scoring defense at 10 points per game — it was 1.0 per game before Saturday's 49-37 win against No. 10 Clemson. The Seminoles rank No. 2 in scoring defense, giving up just 184 yards per game, but two of their four wins are against I-AA programs.

USF has faced 10 teams ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense in Skip Holtz's three seasons, and the Bulls are 2-8 in those games. USF can point to beating Clemson and Louisville in 2010, scoring 31 and 24 points, respectively, but they've also been held to 10 points or fewer in four of the losses.

NOT SO BIG?: It's in an effort to show how much better FSU is compared to three years ago, but Holtz seemed Tuesday to be downplaying USF's 2009 win at Florida State, still seen by most fans as one of the biggest in school history.

Asked Tuesday of his thoughts in 2009 (he was coach at East Carolina) when he saw the USF-FSU score, Holtz said: "Great win for South Florida. I believe Florida State had six losses that year."

(As one fan commented Tuesday on Tampabay.com, Notre Dame had five losses last season when Holtz and USF earned a big victory in South Bend.)

ON A ROLL: USF volleyball is off to a solid start under first-year coach Courtney Draper, with a seven-match win streak — the program's longest in five years — until Sunday's loss at Seton Hall. The Bulls, 12-16 a year ago, are 9-6 heading into a tough home game Friday against Louisville (12-2).

THIS AND THAT: USF hired former Florida Atlantic athletic director Craig Angelos as associate AD for compliance, taking over for Steve Horton, who is retiring this fall after 15 years with the Bulls. Angelos, who was fired in March, spent nine years running the Owls' athletic department in Boca Raton. … Another close FSU tie for Holtz is Seminoles linebackers coach Greg Hudson, who was defensive coordinator at East Carolina, his offensive line coach his first three seasons at Connecticut, and a teammate at Notre Dame.

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