BULLS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : TULANE
By Leo Haggerty
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
South Florida posted what ended up being a hard-fought 34-28 triumph over the Tulane in New Orleans Saturday night. After jumping out to a 34-7 lead, and then watching the Green Wave post 21 unanswered points in the second half, USF had to recover an onside kick late in the game to preserve the victory.
Three streaks were extended with the USF triumph. Also, the Bulls added to their NCAA-leading interception total with a Devon Abraham pick.
First, the Green & Gold moved to 7-0 on the season. Their 4-0 mark has the Bulls tied with Central Florida atop the American Athletic Conference East Division.
Second, USF pushed the nation’s longest active consecutive game winning streak to 12 games. South Florida’s last loss came exactly one year ago from their most recent win and it was to Temple in a monsoon in Philly.
Finally, South Florida set the modern-day mark for most consecutive games scoring 30-plus points at 24 and still counting. That eclipsed the mark of 23 games previously set by Oregon in 2011 – 12.
I am going to guess that, if you asked HC Charlie Strong, he will tell you the two later marks are meaningless. In fact, I’m guessing but the one he would most like to see go away is the last one. The pressure is off. The Bulls have set the mark that goes all the way to 1936 when the Associated Press started polling the best collegiate football teams on a weekly basis.
Now the Green & Gold can just go out and play football. If they get to 30, great. If they don’t, so what. They own the mark. Now, it’s just a matter of how many games it will be before the Bulls are held under the 30-point plateau and, trust me, that will happen eventually.
The one statistic that I can guarantee you the USF defensive coaching staff is keenly aware is interceptions. South Florida is leading the nation with 16. That’s three ahead of their closest pursuers who are Northern Illinois and California respectively.
I cannot emphasize how important a interception, or any turnover for that matter, happens to be. Not only are you giving the Warp 1 offense an extra possession, which can be lethal, but it denying the opposition a chance to to put points up the scoreboard.
The best case scenario is the “Pick 6” or “Scoop 6” plays. It’s the 7 points y0u get and the possible seven points the guys in the other color jerseys don’t get. That, Bulls fans, is huge.
The competition steps up this week with a 3:45 kickoff at Raymond James Stadium and the University of Houston is providing the opposition. The Cougars (4-3 overall and 2-2 in the AAC West) are not having the year HC Major Applewhite had envisioned but are very dangerous team. A road victory over Power Five members Arizona and a three-point home lost to Texas Tech will be enough to get the Bulls undivided attention.
What do the Bulls have to do to put another one in the win column? Stay tuned. I’ll cover that later in the week with my BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : HOUSTON column.