Sunday, December 17, 2017
Colleges

USF football contending for conference title

TAMPA — What once seemed like a distant afterthought for USF is now at the top of its list going into Saturday's American Athletic Conference showdown with No. 18 Louisville — winning the conference championship.

Despite starting 0-4, the Bulls are tied with UCF and Houston for first place (2-0) in the American after consecutive wins over Cincinnati and UConn.

Coach Willie Taggart said Thursday that he is confident his team will take another step toward a title this weekend, though USF has never started 3-0 in conference play.

"That was something we set out from the beginning of the year," Taggart said of the team's championship aspirations.

"Just because things weren't going as well as we wanted to didn't mean we were going to deter from that, because those goals are still in front of us."

USF visits Houston on Oct. 31 and visits UCF on Nov. 29.

Taggart said the start of the season was frustrating, but he considers it a learning experience for players and coaches.

"I think our guys grew through it all," he said.

MEDICAL MATTERS: Taggart said QB Steven Bench (knee), RB Marcus Shaw (hamstring), DT Tevin Mims (leg) and DT Elkino Watson (knee) will be game-time decisions.

UF: Second thoughts

GAINESVILLE — Florida coach Will Muschamp said freshman RB Kelvin Taylor should have had more carries down the stretch of Saturday's 36-17 loss at Missouri.

Taylor's 20-yard touchdown run — his first as a Gator — trimmed the Tigers' lead to 23-17 with 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Taylor, who finished with 74 yards on 12 carries, touched the ball only once more.

"We probably did that too early in the game … getting away from that," Muschamp said. "It became a two-score game in the fourth quarter, and we felt like we needed to pick up the tempo of the game a little bit as far as creating some plays.''

Taylor's role should increase.

"He continues to improve in all facets of the game," Muschamp said. "We've been very pleased with where he is right now."

Meanwhile, Muschamp gave offensive coordinator Brent Pease a vote of confidence in the wake of UF's lowest yardage output in 14 seasons. "This is the same staff that came a game away from playing for national championship (last season)," Muschamp said. "So obviously we're not where we want to be right now, and nobody knows that more than our staff. We need to go back and re-evaluate what we're doing and continue to improve our football over the next five weeks."

Orlando Sentinel

UM: Praise for RB

CORAL GABLES — Dallas Crawford, little more than an afterthought as a second-string running back coming into this season, will continue his newfound place in the spotlight Saturday against Wake Forest.

Crawford has run for two touchdowns in each of the past four games.

"Everybody here has a lot of respect for Dallas," coach Al Golden said. "He just quietly goes about his craft and develops skills. He's got himself into great shape. He's lost weight. He's quicker. He's certainly smarter in his football knowledge."

Crawford has also been a special-teams stalwart. Running back is considered his best position, but he fills many roles.

"Coach Golden always stresses a player having value," Crawford said. "I just try to make myself as valuable as possible."

Times wires

Comments
No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

SUNRISE — Marcquise Reed threw a 75-foot pass to Elijah Thomas for a dunk that put Clemson ahead to stay with 37 seconds left, and the Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half Saturday to beat No. 22 Florida 71-69 in the Orange Bowl ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Tim Tebow wants to help throw you a tailgate wedding (sausages included)

Tim Tebow loves weddings.He apparently also loves football, tailgate parties and a good brat, which might explain why he’s lending his pitchman talents to a contest that ties all four together.In a promotional video, Tebow asks, "What happens when yo...
Published: 12/14/17
River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

Two years ago, Chris Schwarz was mulling over his college choices. The former River Ridge High standout had offers from Valparaiso, Florida Tech and West Florida. West Florida?That one baffled Schwarz, mostly because he knew nothing about the school....
Published: 12/14/17
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Published: 12/13/17
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17