Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls must rebound against Pittsburgh or face a third straight season of a strong start ruined.

TAMPA —- USF's football team knows all too well how quickly and sharply momentum can change directions.

Three years in a row, the Bulls jumped out to strong starts, winning at least their first five games and moving up the national polls, but then a single loss steamrolled into a midseason swoon.

In 2007, the Bulls opened 6-0, rising to No. 2 in the polls, only to lose three in a row to drop out of the Top 25.

In 2008, the Bulls opened 5-0, rising to No. 10, but fell even harder, losing four of their next five games, starting with a loss at Pittsburgh.

This season, USF again opened 5-0, moving to No. 21, but took its first loss Thursday to then-No. 8 Cincinnati. The Bulls' challenge is finding the brakes and stopping the skid at one loss as they play at No. 20 Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"You've got to have a short memory," coach Jim Leavitt said after Thursday's loss. "When you win, you want to have a short memory and move on to the next game. And when you lose, you've got to be able to do the same."

USF (5-1, 1-1 in Big East) is in the most difficult stretch of its schedule, approaching the second of three straight games against ranked opponents, with No. 23 West Virginia on Oct. 30, then a trip Nov. 12 to Rutgers, which has beaten the Bulls three years in a row.

"Whenever I lose, I don't like it. Whether we're 0-5 and lose, or whether we're 5-0 and lose, it doesn't really change it for me," Leavitt said.

His players, driven to win the school's first Big East championship, know another loss probably takes them out of contention. They can take solace in knowing that the league champ has lost at least one conference game in each of the past three seasons, including two losses in 2007.

"Cincinnati lost last year in the Big East, and they won the Big East," said senior defensive end George Selvie, who had two sacks against the Bearcats.

Pittsburgh (6-1, 3-0) has the nation's No. 3 rusher in freshman Dion Lewis (918 yards, nine touchdowns) and has seen much improved play from senior quarterback Bill Stull, who has thrown for 14 touchdowns with three interceptions and ranks seventh nationally in pass efficiency.

Saturday will also be a difficult test for redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels, who has never played in cold weather (Saturday's high in Pittsburgh is 55 degrees) and will face a defensive line that Leavitt said is the best the Bulls have faced this season. Daniels said his team's experiences in the past two seasons should help it avoid the same slump.

"We've been there before. We just need to bounce back from this," Daniels said. "Move on. That's all we can do."

Leavitt has said the overall youth of this team should allow the Bulls to weather injuries better with more depth and makes for more natural improvement throughout the season. Moving forward, the Bulls say, is their only option.

"You don't have a choice," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. "You have to look at film, evaluate it, bury it after 24 hours and get ready for Pitt. We still have a long season ahead of us. We have to get better."

USF Bulls must rebound against Pittsburgh or face a third straight season of a strong start ruined. 10/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2009 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]
  2. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  3. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  4. Rays at Twins, 2:10 p.m. Saturday, Minneapolis

    The Heater

    Today: at Twins

    2:10, Target Field, Minneapolis

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  5. State baseball: Unbeaten Calvary Christian makes it 29 straight wins, reaches final

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian is one game from season-long perfection. And its first state championship.

     Calvary Christian players celebrate their win after the FHSAA class 4A semi-final against American Heritage on Friday May 26, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary defeated American Heritage 7 to 1. Calvary takes on Pensacola Catholic in the championship tomorrow night, at Hammond Stadium.