Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

USF playing with ‘house money’ against heavily favored Notre Dame

The Bulls currently are listed as 26-point underdogs against the Fighting Irish
The USF Bulls stampede onto the field before their season opener Saturday against the Citadel at Raymond James Stadium.
The USF Bulls stampede onto the field before their season opener Saturday against the Citadel at Raymond James Stadium. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Sep. 16, 2020

TAMPA — In the COVID-19 climate, some segments of USF’s inaugural 2020 road trip demand a cautious approach. The Bulls will space themselves out on the buses bound for the airport, and observe a strict seating chart on the plane.

But Saturday afternoon inside Notre Dame Stadium, the initial bars of Wake Up the Echoes will serve as a cue for Jeff Scott’s players to cut loose.

And why wouldn’t they? USF (1-0) hasn’t been such a big underdog in any game in a half-decade.

Related: A closer look at Notre Dame, which hosts USF on Saturday

“I want our guys to go out and play loose, play confident, play free, because where we are right now as a program, we’re playing with house money going into this game,” said Scott, whose team is a 26-point 'dog against the No. 7 Fighting Irish (1-0).

“We can let loose as coaches and players and have fun and see where it all lands at the end of the game.”

Oddsmakers haven’t favored a Bulls opponent so heavily since 2015, when FSU was listed as a 28.5-point favorite, according to Collin Sherwin of DraftKings Nation. If Saturday’s game closes at its current number, it will be the sixth-largest USF has faced as an underdog since it joined Division I-A as an independent in 2001.

The others: Oklahoma in 2002 (plus-30), Louisville in ’04 (plus-30), UCF in ’13 (plus-27) and Wisconsin in ’14 (plus-33). USF covered the spread in four of those five contests, but didn’t win any.

“There’s no pressure on us whatsoever,” Scott said.

“I know our players and coaches may put a little pressure on themselves because we all want to play well any time we step on the field. But when you’re a four-touchdown underdog (and) the goal of the game is for it to still be a game in the fourth quarter, all of that pressure moves to the other sideline.”