Make us your home page

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 relish shot at Miami Hurricanes

TAMPA — Before this season, the mere chance to line up against one of the state's three traditional powers was a rare and anticipated event for USF.

And if beating Florida State in Tallahassee in September was the biggest win in USF history, as coach Jim Leavitt said it was, imagine the significance if the Bulls can pull off a home win today against No. 19 Miami.

"I'd be a fool to say it wouldn't have a tremendous impact," said USF defensive line coach Kevin Patrick, an All-America defensive end at Miami while playing from 1989-93. "It gives you some state rights, which in turn, I've always felt, gives you some national rights as well. This game is very important for us."

The Bulls (7-3) have had one previous shot at the Hurricanes (8-3), losing 27-7 in the Orange Bowl in 2005. Only one current USF player, senior receiver Jessie Hester, played in that game, but all can appreciate the progress the Bulls have made. USF had never been ranked at that point, and had played its first Big East game only a week earlier.

"The last two or three years, (USF) ranked second in the country at one point, and that gives you a lot of confidence in what you're trying to do," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "That's the one thing that has us looking at them. We have to have the mentality that this team has done a great job of getting better each week and each year, and we've stressed to our guys that this is going to be a tough one."

Miami has been vulnerable on the road, losing 31-7 at Virginia Tech and 33-24 at North Carolina. Much will hinge on sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris, who has thrown 21 touchdown passes but also has 17 interceptions. USF answers with its own young, promising quarterback, redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels, who has a similar touchdown-to-interception ratio (11 to eight) but also has six rushing touchdowns to go with a team-best 671 rushing yards.

USF has made a recruiting push into Miami's back yard, with 14 players from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Those Bulls grew up as fans of the "U," with the Hurricanes being a dominant program with five national championships, but their victory at Florida State has helped them feel like confident peers to Miami.

"The U is all that I knew growing up," said Bulls senior linebacker Kion Wilson, who grew up in Miami admiring 'Canes linebackers Ray Lewis and Jonathan Vilma. "I wouldn't consider them (now) the powerhouses they were when I was growing up in my childhood days. But I still feel they're a fairly good team. They have great athletes, and they're on the path to becoming what they were."

A win against Miami would help the Bulls' perception in the state's football hierarchy, and it could reap huge benefits in recruiting. The Bulls started seeing progress on that front in February, beating Florida for defensive end Ryne Giddins and beating Miami for linebacker Sam Barrington and cornerback Kayvon Webster.

"It's a significant event for us to be able to begin competing against the other BCS schools in the state," running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Carl Franks said. "(A win against Miami) establishes more relevance for us in the football world that is Florida, recruiting in Florida, and in the national picture. It would be a very significant win for our program."

Moments after the Bulls beat FSU, defensive end George Selvie agreed with Leavitt that USF had just earned the biggest win in its history. But Selvie made one exception to that assessment.

"It's Florida State, so it's got to rank No. 1," Selvie said that day. "It might move to No. 2 when we play Miami. We'll see."

USF Bulls relish shot at Miami Hurricanes 11/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 27, 2009 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs roundtable: Time for another kicking panic?


    Five days after the beleaguered Roberto Aguayo got cut after missing a PAT and a field goal, new Bucs kicker Nick Folk had a PAT blocked and missed a field goal.

  2. The Bloomingdale's that a Ruth baseball built

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — A treasure, possibly worth half a million dollars, could lie behind a granite slab at the base of the Bloomingdale's flagship store in Manhattan in New York City, just a few feet from a window displaying designer handbags: a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

    According to reports from 1930, this cornerstone of Bloomingdale's flagship store in New York City could have a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and other items entombed with instructions not to open for 200 years. The Ruth ball, if there and in good condition, could be worth a record $500,000. [ New York Times]
  3. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  4. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  5. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.