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Welcome Back, Flamerica University

No Syracuse football team has ever defeated a South Florida football team.  Ever.  Not in the hundred years that we've been doing this.

It's true.  Science and all.  In fact, we've never scored more than 13 against USF and they've never scored less than 27, breaking the 40+ point barrier 50% of the time they play us.

Okay, so they've only been doing this for a couple decades and we've only been playing each other since 2004.  But's not exactly one of the top bullet points on our resume (for college football program jobs?).

USF comes to town this weekend as both teams open Big East play.  Things are a little different than the last time we played.  Greg Robinson and Matt Grothe are no longer involved, and both are a good thing for SU fans.  The question is...can we actually win?

So before we get started, I really need to repeat this paragraph that I noted last year from Wikipedia.  It truly is the gift that keeps giving:

USF was founded in 1956. However, the university was not officially named until the following year, and courses did not start until 1960. Some of the original proposed names included "Citrus State University", "Sunshine State University," "The University of the Western Hemisphere," "Ponce de Leon University," "Flamerica University," and "The University of Florida at Temple Terrace."

Sadly, they've removed the Flamerica mention from the current write-up.  Possibly because it was untrue but more likely because it would have meant that everyone could see they almost called the place FLAMERICA UNIVERSITY. (They're all great name choices though, aren't they?)

So USF beat Florida State last weekend 17-7.  In Tallahassee.  Without Grothe. The merits of beating 2009 FSU are up for debate but this was such a big win for the program, Jim Leavitt looked to quantum physics to explain it's impact:

"It changes history."

I know what he means, but then again...I don't.

The win was so big the Bulls were named the Tostitos National Team of the Week, whatever the hell that means. While they're still not ranked in the AP (though they are in this Power Ranking Top 25), the Bulls are once again on the verge of storming the national landscape just like they did a few years back.

But a few years back, and every year it seems, the Bulls faded once Big East play started up.  As ESPN's Brian Bennett shows us, they're the Mr. September of college football:

  • 2007: The Bulls started 6-0, with a monumental win at Auburn. That start, though, was followed by three straight losses and a Big East record of 4-3. Final record: 9-4.
  • 2008: USF began the year 5-0, including a thrilling last-second win over Kansas. That start was followed by a 1-4 stretch and a 2-5 league campaign. Final record: 8-5.

B.J. Daniels will attempt to do what Matt Grothe couldn't.  Push the Bulls past that first layer of success and into the next level.  The Bulls went to the Sun Bowl in 2007 but got crushed.  Last year they settled for the St. Pete Bowl. This year they'll have the chance to push their way through to next level.  Gator Bowl?  BCS Bowl?  All possible, given the state of the Big East.

Of course, it starts with Syracuse this weekend. USF might have opened the door into becoming one of the guys at the table in Florida and they might have become one of the Big East's better programs, but it's all about what you've done lately that will define USF this season. We're no Florida State but, you know, we are 2-2.  Perhaps you guys heard about that.