Miami’s offense did not look that great against a stout Gator defense, but the Canes escaped with the win anyway. Florida played a bad game as they turned the ball over five times, which made Al Golden‘s job a little easier. Last week, Miami beat a poor Savannah State team 77-7, a game which told us absolutely nothing about the Canes. This is a game that never should have been played and was not good for college football.
This week, Miami plays its final tune-up game before getting into conference play. They will travel to Tampa to take on a USF team that has taken a fall from grace ever since Jim Leavitt was let go by the program.
Leavitt built the USF football program up from nothing and had his team ranked as high as No. 2 at one point during the 2007 season. In that 2007 season, the Bulls experienced early-season success when they pounded North Carolina and UCF. Following those wins, they defeated then-ranked No. 5 West Virginia, who was led by Pat White and Steve Slaton, 21-13. That turned out to be the biggest win in school history, and the Bulls skyrocketed up the polls.
However, the fast success would come to a halt when a Ray Rice-led Rutgers team upset the Bulls a few week later. USF let one loss turn into many more. In 2008, the Bulls beat then-ranked No. 10 Kansas and in 2009 went to Tallahassee and beat Florida State in Doak Campbell Stadium.
This program was on the rise, and then Leavitt was fired after an incident that involved him allegedly striking a player. Skip Holtz came in and the losses piled up.
Willie Taggart is now the head man in Tampa, but the Bulls are off to an 0-3 start. This program has really taken multiple steps back, and Miami will be a huge favorite in this game. USF got blown out by the Canes last season by a score of 40-9. However, in 2011, the Canes only won 6-3, and they lost to the Bulls in 2010.
I do not see an upset occurring this weekend, but this is a game that means a lot to USF and the little fans it has left. USF got embarrassed in Week 1 when they lost to McNeese State 53-21, but followed that game with a respectable 21-6 loss to Michigan State. In their most recent game, the Bulls lost to Florida Atlantic 28-10, which is telling of how low this team is in the Florida football pecking order.
At one point, USF was more relevant than Miami and Florida State, but now they are less relevant than FAU.
Miami’s quarterback Stephen Morris should be good to go this week after an ankle injury had him sidelined in the first quarter of the Savannah State game. I look for Duke Johnson to have a big game and for USF fans to head back to their tailgates fairly early. Taggart is going to need a few years before this USF team can start to compete with Florida’s best teams again.
As for Miami, they play Georgia Tech next weekend, so it would be good for them to work on their execution and try to come out of this game with no injuries. Their showdown with the Yellow Jackets next week could be the game that decides the ACC Coastal division.
Travis Patterson, Writer for ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20