The #8 ranked Gators take on the U.S.F. Bulls this Saturday at 12:20pm on the SEC network and its affiliates. In Canada the game can be seen on Peachtree TV and the college sports/football premium cable packages. After Florida’s week 1 struggles, this game is shaping up to be much more competitive than it looked a few weeks ago. Any talk of the Gators winning by more than 4 touchdowns cannot be taken seriously anymore. This game should be fun to watch because it pits two in-state rivals in a must win situation.
U.S.F. has long been the football “red headed step child” of the state of Florida. Often left out of the conversation between the “Big 3″, U.S.F. has quietly stepped up its game and become a more than decent football program. They have played in a bowl game the last 5 seasons and have won 3 of those games, including the last 2. They have beaten both Auburn and F.S.U. on the road in the last 2 years and they have sent several players to the NFL, including 5 in the 2010 draft.
Skip Holtz now runs the show in Tampa and he fully understands that a victory over the Gators would turn his Bulls into the legitimate “top 4th” in the state and potentially set off a paradigm shift in the state. This is the biggest game of the year for the Bulls because it gives them a chance to beat the best team in the state of Florida over the past 10 years (no offense Miami fans). A victory in The Swamp would let everyone, including the recruits across the nation and especially in the talent rich area, know that U.S.F. is for real and can play with the big boys. The Bulls will be primed for the upset and as a result of the Gators opening game, some have picked the Bulls as an upset special of the week.
The Gators cannot afford to drop a game at home against an in-state rival after their poorest offensive output in several decades. Some fans are already calling for the head of offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and a loss against an apparently inferior rival would only encourage that thought. Adazzio finds himself on the hotseat after only 1 week and he can ill afford another lackluster performance on offense.
Skip Holtz is a good friend of Urban Meyer, he recommended him to his father when Lou was coaching at Notre Dame. There is lots of mutual respect between these two coaches and I expect the game to be played out accordingly. Meyer has said he considers Skip to be one of the best coaches in the country and the Bulls to be an “SEC caliber team”. I don’t expect either team to hold anything back and this game could go down to the wire.
The Gators haven’t lost a home game against non-SEC opponents since the 2003 “Swindle in the Swamp” loss to reF.S.U. and U.S.F. is 10-2 alltime against teams from Florida.
Prediction: Florida wins by +10.
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Written by The Gator Great