SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/17/2007 04:43:00 PM
Rice Represents USF's Stiffest Challenge
Rutgers RB Ray Rice has rushed for at least 175 yards in three games this season.
Yet again, it seems ESPN and the Big East were privy to some sort of psychic information when they made out the schedule for this season. Just four days after upstart South Florida debuted at No. 2 in the BCS standings, the 6-0 Bulls visit 4-2 Rutgers tonight in one of those must-see Thursday night showcases that are quickly becoming annual occurrences for that conference.
The question is, will this one, as was the case with Louisville-West Virginia and Rutgers-Louisville a year ago, spell doom for the undefeated road team?
While USF has been busy exceeding anyone's wildest expectations this season -- winning at Auburn, knocking off No. 5 West Virginia, thrashing purported "rival" UCF 64-12 -- preseason No. 16 Rutgers recently dropped consecutive home games to Maryland and Cincinnati to fall out of the rankings completely.
So, No. 2 USF should steamroll unranked Rutgers, correct? Sure … just like last week's No. 2 Cal should have had no problem with 3-3 Oregon State. Upsets happen. Here's why this one could.
It's no secret that Jim Leavitt's Bulls have made their mark with a speedy, swarming defense, one that currently ranks 11th in the country at 284.3 yards per game allowed. Even more impressively, USF has gone 14 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, a stretch that includes two meetings with West Virginia star Steve Slaton (who averaged 47.5 yards in those games) and last week's date with the nation's current No. 3 rusher, UCF's Kevin Smith (18 carries, 55 yards).
So, who was the last running back that did hit triple-digits against the Bulls? That would be the guy they're facing Thursday night, Rutgers star Ray Rice.In a 22-20 Scarlet Knights win in Tampa on Sept. 29, 2006, Rice wore down USF with 35 carries for 202 yards and two touchdowns. This on the heels of a 158-yard night as a true freshman a year earlier (though the Bulls won that one 45-31).
"He is tremendous," USF coach Leavitt said of Rice, who is currently fifth nationally in rushing (136.3 yards per game). "He can bounce outside, inside, he is strong and they have awfully good blocking. It is going to be a really tough challenge for us."
It's no accident why Rice, rather than Slaton or Smith, has been the Bulls' kryptonite. As noted, USF's forte is speed -- scary, home-grown Florida speed like we saw on national champion Florida's defense last year. (On one play last week, Bulls DE George Selvie, the nation's sack leader with 11.5, stormed through the line to strip UCF's quarterback … on a handoff.) It's that speed that's allowed them to counter guys like Slaton and Pat White, who make their living by making guys miss.
Rice, on the other hand, exemplifies old-school power football. It's not that the junior isn't fast, but that Rutgers utilizes him in much the same manner as Michigan does Mike Hart. He's a workhorse, carrying the ball at least 34 times on three occasions already this season, including a 36-carry, 199-yard, three-TD outing in last week's 38-14 win at Syracuse. Slowing him down (as Cincinnati did two weeks ago) requires stamina more than speed.
"You’re not going to stop him, he is too good," said Leavitt, "but hopefully we can corral him a little bit."
If they can do that, the Bulls should be in decent shape. Rutgers QB Mike Teel, though ranked fifth nationally in pass effiency, remains prone to mistakes, throwing five interceptions in his past three games, and will likely face heavy pressure from Selvie and Co. Meanwhile, USF dual-threat QB Matt Grothe and RB Mike Ford could present problems for Rutgers' defense.
Of course, they may not see the field much if Rice and the Knights manage to eat up chunks of clock and yardage the way they did last year (37:16 to 22:44). The coaches and Harris poll voters may be the ones weighing the Bulls down in the standings, but in reality, Rice -- not to mention a short travel week and a sure-to-be electric Rutgers Stadium crowd -- may be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of USF's path to New Orleans.
USF will win this game because they will force Rutgers to have to resort to the passing game to even stay in this match-up. I look for the Bulls to stack the line with 8 or 9 guys and force Rutgers to win this game through the air. If you have followed the Bulls at all this year you know they have 2 of the best cover corners in America. The defense swarms, they have great fundamentals and they do not miss many tackles.
Grothe and company present a huge challenge for a maligned Rutgers defense that has given up huge plays, and long drives to lesser talented teams. Due to it being a short week, it might be closer than expected but I don't think the Scarlet Knights will present too much of a threat to win this game. Prediction: USF 34 Rutgers 17
This game is not as easy to pick as some have made it out to be. We've heard about Rice being able to run on USF last year and the year before as well. The key is Teel and for some reason I can see him raising to the occasion this evening.
The weather will be in the 60s tonight but there is also a 50/50 chance of rain so it could come down to who runs the best, I'll take Ray Rice in that battle.
27-24 - Ito wins it for RU and Brunswick turns into party town.
Having never seen the USF squad on television this year but just knowing about their record and teams they have beaten, I will be watching the game tonight with much interest. Will others be doing the same for the first time this year and be more scutinizing should they lose? If they do lose would they fall out of top ten just because they haven't been around for long football wise, or would their body of work for this year keep them in the thick of things?
I am a USF Alumnus who is very excited about USF's national exposure and ranking. This is our biggest game remaining on our schedule. I think if we can beat Rutgers, we will run the table and go undefeated. GO BULLS
I like USF and all, but I'm pulling for Rutgers in this one. Yea, I'm that guy who's hating on USF for being a nobody program. All power to them, I just don't want to watch them in the title game. Hey, at least I'm honest about it.
Rutgers still needs position replacements for Brian Leonard, Clark Harris and maybe more importantly, Joe Radigan. They have no 3rd and 5 play and they give the opponents field position with every punt. This is not last year's Rutgers.
Key for them winning tonight is to employ a 5 receiver formation (include Jabu Lovelace with Underwood, Britt, Brown and Brock). This prevents stacking the box and creates some mismatches in our favor. It also, more importantly, spreads the field and gives Ray Rice more holes to find. Once passed the line, his power will neutralize USF speed in the second level.
Teel has made a couple of bad decisions, but he's also playing with some kind of thumb injury, so if that's doing better, he should be more accurate today. I think USF will be in a lot of trouble if their game plan is to just load up against the run.
No one inside Ohio cares about USF, just like no one cares that Stewart Mandel had them at #1. Put them on the same field with OSU (big ten bad this year or not) and OSU shows them what power football and smash mouth football is about. Plus, the indians play tonight, much more intriguing then two inconsistent programs that look good one year and fall the next. USF is a bunch of seniors with some talent. Real football programs, OSU, LSU, USC have supreme talent and are playing sophmores and juniors, that is why they are always good. USF this is your last hoorah for then next three years... GUARANTEED!
Um Rizwan, your business with the SEC was finished 16 seconds into the NC game last year. Personally I also want to see a one loss SEC team go to the NC game, but it won't be against OSU. Their overrated team this year will get exposed over the next few weeks (when they finally play someone), and you'll see either USF or Okla in the NC game.
Oh and Tyler, USF has beat a top ten team each year for the last three years, so I wouldn't call them a one-year wonder. Personnally at this moment I would take USF over OSU in a straight up pick em, and my winning percentage is pretty darn good.
BTW, I'm not a USF fan, just a realist and football fan.
Stewart said, "On one play last week, Bulls DE George Selvie, the nation's sack leader with 11.5, stormed through the line to strip UCF's quarterback … on a handoff." One need not be Selvie-quick to accomplish such a feat if the blocking leaves one unimpeded.
Back in the '70s, the North Texas Mean Green made their way to Neyland stadium to play the Vols. Due to injuries and other circumstances, North Texas was short twenty-eight 1st & 2nd string players, including their place kicker.
During the game, the Vols looked lethargic. Their execution was poor. Missed opportunities were as numerous as the orange-clad fans. On the other hand, the Mean Green was game, returning a kick for a touchdown and mounting an offensive drive to score another TD.
Late in the game, Tennessee had the ball deep in their own territory. The quarterback took the snap, faked to his left, turned to his right and placed the ball into the gut of a charging North Texas defender that had come through UT's line untouched. The result was a third North Texas touchdown. It turned out to be the winning score. To this day, the Vol faithful shamefully refer to that play as "the North Texas hand-off."
It's ridiculous how people give the Big East teams any crap for losing any games, but it's okay if Oklahoma drops one to Colorado, or if LSU loses to UK (a team no one gave a chance to in the preseason). And how about we wait until November to start saying a team's overrated, especially if they are currently undefeated??? OSU and USF will have their opportunities to either shine or blow it up, starting tonight with the Bulls at Rutgers.
Its like this.... USF has the 4th toughest schedule in college football. That is cold hard facts. This team has an unstoppable defense and the offense is pretty salty too... I love how OSU fans say they dont stand a chance against them. Reality check... OSU has a chance to not play a ranked team all year. A schedule ranked 65th is not a team that should be ranked #1. Heres the facts. USF should be number one right now because they blow out every team they play, ranked or not... There is only one team that is better than USF and that is LSU. But dont get me wrong, if USF goes undefeated this season, LSU can prepare to be the underdog.... This is coming from a longhorns fan that is rooting for USF to take it all. Hookem
OSU is the most overrated program in the country playing in the most overrated conference in the country. PLAY SOMEONE!!! Oh, sorry forrgot, you did play someone in the NC game last year. How did that work out for you???
Brouce Mompremier-JR Matt Grothe-SO Mike Ford-FR Benjamin Williams-JR Jesse Hester-SO Taurus Johnson-JR George Selvie-SO
These are all impact players that are not seniors. USF has done a great job of recruiting talent within Florida that didn't want to sit at UM, UF, or FSU. Next time you want to make a comment, try to have some kind of validity behind it Tyler. USF 31-RU 17
You have lost your minds. Last year the Buckeyes only lost in the NC game because of a 55 day layoff and they were the overwhelming favorite and lost focus. This year they are the underdogs, only finding themselves on top due to losses by "better" teams. USf has the toughest strength of schedule of the undefeated teams so far it is like 12th according to mike and mike and osu is 77 right now. However the rest of the season OSU has the toughest of the undefeated teams. All that really matters is focus and OSU will maintain that this year.
The NC game last year was such a fluke, I could see if they won by 7 but OSU just wasn't even awake, if they were the score would have been the same, but with them on top.
A bunch of these comments are crazy. Who cares if USF can beat OSU the odds of them both making it are slim if you ask me. OSU has to play some very tough games in the next few weeks. I dont think people realize how tough penn state is to play at their place at night. Im also sick of people talking about LSU being the best team by far this year. LSU's defense is great but their offense is very questionable. I dont think anyone should say LSU is the best team by far when they continue to have 5-10 dropped passes a game. #1 teams just dont do that.
Also, most all good teams have less seniors on the roster because the good players leave after junior seasons aka Ginn Jr. Gonzalez, Pittman, ETC.. so just because they have 19 seniors it doesnt mean those 19 dont start. Match up staters to starters with OSU and see who wins the underclassmen battle!
The BCS and Mandell are smoking crack. Tonight and in the next two weeks the top teams will rise up to make things right again. USF is just lucky WVU gave them the game or they would be just another bump in the road.
I just looked up the OSU startes at every position including SPECIAL TEAMS, they ahve a total of THREE count em three starting seniors, and that is if you count the fullback which rarely ever starts in the offense we run. So we have TWO. Dont act like I dont know what I am talking about Randy and Nate.
What is this obsession with "making things right"? Sometimes Boise State beats Oklahoma in a bowl game, sometimes a I-AA school beats Michigan, sometimes an 11-year-old program becomes #2 in the country. The same teams aren't "supposed" to dominate every year; it's part of what makes college football exciting.
Doug, well said... And by the way, like stated before, USF has the forth toughest schedule in the NCAA according the the BCS. OSU, 65th.... Wow, now thats tough.... 65th is like the new number one according to Tyler.... Tyler, I have never heard someone struggle as much as you on trying to justify your OSU ranking... Seniors, Juniors, who cares.... Like I stated in my previous post above, there is a good chance OSU might not play a ranked team period... Now that is a tough squad... So scary that teams loose on perpose so they arent ranked when they play OSU... NOT!!! OSU is over ranked and if USF wins, they will jump to number one according to all analysts and BCS know alls. USF already is ranked first in BCS points and ranked second in the computer poll... If they beat Rutgers, I think they just might get the AP vote... Its already been said that the point margin from first to second on the BCS portion is huge and the only way for USF to loose its lead is a loss... Well lets see if that happens.... Tyler, go back to reading your SI for kids magazine and leave the grown folks discussion to everyone else... Your almost as bad as a Nebraska fan....
Have we really reached the day that fans from USF can trash talk anyone? Win a NC first, or for that matter a big least championship, then you can join the big boy programs. Enjoy your 15 minutes, it ends tonight. Games get a lot tougher when you have a bullseye. You'd be a fool to not admit you are scared of tonight's game.
So if USF beats rutgers USF is #1. So doesnt that statement say the exact opposite of why people keep downplaying OSU bc of their strength of schedule. Rutgers has beat Buffalo, Navy, Norfolk State and Syracuse. Rutgers has lost to Cincinnati and Maryland. So USF should be #1 after they beat a team that does not have ONE quality win? Thats a pretty sorry comment or opinion. Why are people making a big deal about the midseason rankings? If USF goes undefeated they will be in the NC. If OSU goes undefeated they will play in the NC. Everyone can have opinions on who should be in the NC game but strength of schedule is a very weak one. This season shoudl show if a team ends up undefeated they have all the right to be in the NC no matter who they have played. CAL USC OKL have all lost to teams that if they would had won no one would have respected the win at all.
Doug, Doug, Doug, my friend, unless you started watching football yesterday, or quit smoking crack today you know as well as I do the odds of USF being in front of OSu on January 15 are practically nonexistent. There are more than ten reasons, mostly because OSU has one of the top five coaches in the Nation, has a much better defense, not jsut speed as everyone says for USF, and they also play in a conference that continually posts national championships. You have to go back to 84 to find someone outside the Big Ten, SEC, PAC 10, ACC, or Big 12 that one a national championship. The only thing keeping them from beating people by 50 points even there though their average win 30 points is a reserved coach that never puts it on people like he could. Don't cry about scheduling because generally the Big Ten is better, and we can't control how well they play. I don't see what the hype is about the Big East, Louisville, West Virginia, and USF all have one thing in common, they only play one side of the ball at a 10 level, and on that one side (USF DEFENSE) they only play either the run or pass well. OSU can do whatever they want on both sides of the ball. I don't see a need to keep going. Once I mentioned Jim Tressel for OSU and the Big East for USF the discussion was over.
2002 31-28 (Lost to South Carolina) 2001 24-7 (Lost to South Carolina) 1996 20-14 (Lost to Tennessee) 1995 24-17 (Lost to Alabama) 1993 21-14 (Lost to Georgia) 1990 31-14 ((Lost to Auburn) 1978 35-6 (Lost to Alabama) 2006 41-14 (Lost to Florida)
Ohio State is 0-8 against SEC teams. Owned. Do I need to bring up basketball too. Florida beat Ohio State twice last year. Tyler, I think the last thing Ohio State wants is to play any team from the state of Florida or the SEC.
Ryan none of those stats have a lick of relavancy! Only last years game may have any light on this year and Florida has lost twice this year already so they obviously aren't the same team. The SEC is tough, I am yet to dispute that, so also I am not seeing your point? Finally, just because Florida was tough doesn't mean that USF is, that is like saying since OSU is tough that Ohio Bobcats are. Retarded!
Why do SEC fans always think everything is about them? Who cares, this is about USF being a nobody. Everyone already knows Kentucky and South Carolina are posers, LSU can't play offense, Florida has a linebacker for a QB and the rest of the division just plan sucks, Vandy? Ole Miss? MSU? Tenn? Georgia? all a bunch of jokes.
I am an LSU fan. I figured I would get that bias out right away. I could careless what any other team does as long as LSU makes it back to the 1 or 2 and we play for the NC. We only lost to UK because of a) bad call not to go for two in the first OT and b) did you see the florida game? I was tired after being there and watching it much less having to prepare for a top ten team again the next week. You have to admit no matter where your loyalties are, its hard as heck to play 5 ranked opponents in 8 weeks.
I get so sick of some of these "fans". Some of these "traditional powers" are resting on past laurels of past seasons. Its like this...
I know what your daddy did... does that make YOU automatically great? I think not. Every season is a new team with new players. What have you done for me lately?
I like that USF is shaking up the the football world. Its about time someone rattles some cages. Enough with "my team has always been great"... Notre Dame is a prime example of this kind of mentality. They get special treatment from the BCS because of what some of their forebearers did 20 or 30 years ago.
Its gotten to the point where every Irish fan has watched Rudy so many times that they are convinced that they are a 4th string player if they just get "the chance"
Ohio has a great team history... but this year they are absolutely reaping benefits of past greatness. With their schedule, had they been anyone else, they would not be ranked this high.
this is a great thursday night matchup good for the game. im very excited to see it, it will be close both teams are solid, also this will tell if USF is legit, even with there fast start and big wins there are still question marks regarding the team. beat Rutgers and the questions will go away. great matchup again.
dave, I've yet to see any reasons WHY OSU isn't good enough to be #1. They've played an easy schedule so far, but how does that prove they aren't any good? All they've done is destroyed every team they've played. USF may be more "deserving" of #1 since they have played tougher teams, but I like to call an apple an apple, USF is a poser and the big least is a joke.
Another well said post, Dave... Sometimes I feel like that happens with my longhorns... Hell we had to fight our butts off to get a NC spot a few years ago... USC is another team that gets to just fly on by with losses and still get a top rank... RUDY, HAHAHA
I just cant believe Tyler never commented on my previous posts... I guess its easier to just skip over facts.
Actually, USF is NOT a bunch of seniors. And they are not inconsisent. Anybody that has followed them knows this: year by year they have increasingly become better (go back and look at the results). 2 yrs ago, made it to first bowl game (lost). Last year, went to 2nd bowl game (won). Now, this year?? Nothing inconsisent about this team. Selvie and Grother (the two leaders on both sides of the ball) are only sophmores, among others. No, they are here to stay for a while, regardless of tonights outcome (which will be USF 30 RU 14)
I will just say that I am a huge OSU fan. I am also going to say that you cant blame the team for being ranked #1, blame the Pollsters.
SEC faithful, you have a better conference this year. But sports run in cycles and it will be Big Tens turn at the top eventually. Big 12 will be there again as well as will Pac 10.
How did OSU even get into this, the story is about South Florida and Rutgers not OSU or SEC Dominance.
For the South Florida haters I can tell you that this team is legit. The team is made up of UF, Miami and FSU rejects that have a reason to play with a chip on their shoulders. They are fast and great athletes. You don't beat Auburn at home without great talent.
Big East haters, what is wrong you . Give them a break and be glad that its a competitive league. It's GREAT for College Football that there is so much competition out there. I for one am sick of the same big schools getting all the headlines. Give Cincinnati, South Florida and Rutgers a chance to get better.
Again, I am a huge OSU fan but I'm not blind, I know they are fortunate to be in the position they are in.
I'm not by any means an OSU fan, but why shouldn't they be #1? Sure, their opponents have not been up-to-par, but they have destroyed them. As for USF, although they have beaten more quality opponents than OSU, they struggled against a team that they were suppose to handle easily (Florida Atlantic). It could go either way, but OSU has been more consistent in thier defense AND offense.
Come on guys USF deserves to be #1 definitely, but their SOS is a little misleading seeing as they beat a horrible Aurburn team at the beginning of the year that seemed to rise from the dead in week 4. Auburn averaged giving up 4 turnovers and 3 sacks a game through the first three weeks. OSU also needs to play someone before people start touting them as a better team than USF. Finally, USF didn't blow away all their competition. They beat Auburn in overtime and the WV game was close(since WV brought it within 1 score with over 5 minutes left); however, I think Grothe made some really bad decisions in the WV game to keep it close.
USF is on it's way to becoming the FSU of the 21st century. They play in a weak conference (remember that's why Bowden originally went to the ACC). They are located in the state with THE best talent. They recruit Polk County. And their coach is committed for the long haul. As a UF alumnus, I think we should drop FSU and add USF as our in-state rival. It would help our strength of schedule.
Yes, I am a USF grad and fan. I am just amazed at all the disrespect shown for this upstart program. Could it be that the Bulls are successful because of hard work, talent, and coaching. Brad:"who are the Bulls?" Until further notice the #2 ranked team. Tyler: Others have already dismissed your comment about USF "is a bunch of seniors". And..."last hoorah?" They've only been aroung 11 years! And one last thing, Tyler, OSU got waxed by the Gators. Stop making excuses about a "layoff". You lost. Deal with it. GO BULLS!
you have to remember... prior to bowden ressurecting fsu in the 80s, the noles were a laughing stock with no respect.
usf seems to be at the cusp of something great just as fsu was. the problem is that they are untested in terms of long term history. but every great football program has to have their first great year. i think usf can pull it off this year.
if usf does not make a national championship or whatever, they have still put the college football world on notice... there is a new powerhouse growing in florida.
one way or another the chances are very very high that usf will take a national championship in the next 5-10 years.
thats pretty damn impressive any way you cut it... especially considering that this program is younger than every player on the team and most of their "kid brothers"
USF is having a great season and is playing very well, but let's back up a little bit here. They have two marquee wins, Auburn and WVU. At the beginning of the season, Auburn was playing poorly and still finding themselves as a team. And if I'm not mistaken, WVU lost Slaton early in the game, so those two wins aren't as impressive as they seem at first glance. As for the comparisons to OSU, I don't think we can assume that USF would just roll through the Big Ten without a hitch, even if it is a down year. Regardless, the only reason USF (and OSU) are atop the polls is because other teams have lost. Time will tell how good both teams are.
It's not supposed to be ground breaking. It's just that the Big 10 doesn't have the same level of competition that the SEC or PAC-10 has. Sure, OSU is always up there in mention with the best, but who do they have to beat to get there? An ok Michigan team or a struggling Wisconsin team? Don't get me wrong..I cheer for OSU with the rest of them, but the reality is that they have a first class seat to the championship game.
Ever notice how the Buckeye fans are the SEC fans of the midwest? Actual facts mean nothing to them - they're just number one, no matter what. That beatdown last year against FL? Fluke. All those losses to SEC teams? Didn't happen. Strength of schedule? Um, hey, Washington's good, um, what about Purdue.
Personally, I hope they make it to the championship game, where they'll yet again be beaten badly. I don't think USF will make it - it will probably be an SEC team. Oh well, pick your poison I guess.
I agree completely. The Big Ten is not the SEC or the Pac 10. OSU is in a great position because they started out #12 and have won so far. As long as they don't loose to a 40 point underdog they deserve to be in the conversation for the NC game.
And like someone else had said, it's not OSU's fault that their conference isn't up to par with others. However, they beat who they are supposed to and they beat them badly. You can't keep them out of the championship game, but it just sucks for college football when they get there and get demolished. Away with the BCS!!!
OSU has only been destroyed once in a NC game. I remember back in 2002 i was at a bar and heard OSU beat michigan and would be playing in the NC game. I remember then a couple of friends and i were not to happy about it bc we figured miami would roll right over them. You really cant argue a team would get killed in a game until they play each other. Remember Oklahoma was beating teams by 50 points every week back in 2003 and then get killed by kstate in the big 12 championship. The only reason they were in the NC is because people were impressed with how bad they were beating teams. With all that i think no one should argue my teams better then yours to anyone until they actually play that year.
I thought these posts were supposed to be relevant to the story (i.e., USF at Rutgers), but if not then let me post this:
Rankings are meaningless! In the preseason coaches and media are simply guessing how good teams are. Midseason they reflect how well teams met their expectations or not; or worse, how likely they are to meet a new set of expectations.
Add to this team, conference or regional bias; program or conference reputations, and it compounds the problem.
Would South Florida be ranked #2 if it weren't in a BCS conference? Utah, Boise State and Hawaii have had similar starts but never reached these heights.
The fact that SEC teams may have 3 or 4 ranked teams on their schedules doesn't impress me a wit. And teams losing to unranked opponents doesn't surprise me a wit.
There are 119 teams, 25 are ranked at any given time, and 41 have been ranked at some time. However, 73 have winning records, and at season end 64 will be bowl-eligible. All of that tells me that many more than 25 teams are capable of winning.
A schedule can be strong regardless of the number of ranked teams on it. The NCAA projects that, at season's end, Ohio State's schedule will be the 23rd most difficult, and that is the highest ranking of the top 5 teams in the BCS. How many opponents of 12 will have been ranked? Maybe two... maybe three.
Any posts here relying on rankings alone shoud be dismissed. Rankings are meaningless.
So, once and for all, can we finally get off the USF bandwagon? They lost to an unranked Rutgers team. (Or are you guys going to tell me it's a tough game because it's inter-conference and Rutgers was ranked earlier this year?)
USF beat a WV team that gets media love but can't win the big game, and a suspect Auburn team that gets love for playing in the SEC. Are they a good team - absolutely. Are they the number two team in the land - probably not before, and definitely not now.
I've said this before in my posts...you can argue SoS and conference strength 'til you're blue in the face...but it's kind of like this. You don't become a superstar by making the spectacular play alone, you become a superstar by making the spectacular play AND the routine one. And tonight, USF forgot to make the routine play...silly penalties, bad play by the O-line, and just an undisciplined game in general. Guess life as the favorite is kind of tough.