Up and at 'em, everyone! The South Florida Bulls kick off Friday's football action against the Louisville Cardinals this morning at Raymond James Stadium. The game begins at 11:00am Eastern time, and Bulls fans everywhere can roll out of bed, make themselves a turkey sandwich, and tune into ESPN2.
The Bulls (5-5, 1-4 Big East) still need one more win for bowl eligibility after last week's soul-sucking 6-3 loss to the Miami Hurricanes. It's still unclear if they will have quarterback B.J. Daniels in the lineup. He left last week's game after spraining the AC joint in his right shoulder, and USF's job might be a lot more difficult without him under center. Their running game (and by extension, the entire offense) revolves around his ability to keep the ball, and when Bobby Eveld entered the game against Miami, the Bulls ground to a halt. Daniels is expected to be a game-time decision today.
It will be critically important for the Bulls to sustain the run against a Louisville team that loves to pressure the quarterback, and that also wants to manage the game with their true freshman signal-caller, Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals have done a good job helping him succeed -- although he has as many touchdowns as interceptions (nine of each), he's completing almost 66% of his passes and hasn't had games placed on his shoulders. That might change if USF, who leads all of FBS in tackles for loss, is able to lock down the Cardinals' running game, led by Victor Anderson and Dominique Brown.
Even though they would only be 7-5 with a win, Louisville would be 5-2 in conference play and would be in good shape to win a tiebreaker for the Big East title and earn a BCS bid. While it sinks in how truly pathetic that would be for the conference, it should be noted that the Cardinals are 0-4 in Tampa all-time, and their last three losses at Raymond James Stadium have been by an average of 27 points. Will that change today, or will the Bulls set themselves up for a seventh straight bowl appearance?