Bullish Upset In Context

A show of hands. Anyone else hang in there all the way for that colossal, overtime, Saturday night-morphs-into-Sunday morning, USF win at Auburn? Thought so.

Let’s put that pulsating, nationally televised 26-23 victory for the ages into context.

*Auburn’s been playing football since the game looked like rugby; USF’s been at it for a decade. Auburn was the only team to defeat national champion Florida last year.

*USF is ranked ahead of Florida State, Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame.

*The Bulls picked up a ton of national publicity – and also returned from Auburn with a $650,000 check. As a result of the upset win, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News , and the New York Times have joined ESPN in picking up on the upstart Bulls.

*Local interest now ramped up for the next two Bulls’ games – both at home. This Saturday (noon) North Carolina comes calling, and the Bulls’ biggest challenge will not be UNC – but not letting down against an inferior, Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Imagine. The following Friday night top-five West Virginia visits, which should only be the biggest college game in the history of Tampa. Both games are on national television.

According to USF Sports Information Director Chris Freet, the Bulls anticipate a sellout — that’s 65,000 — for WVU.

*”There’s definitely an on-campus buzz,” says Freet. “And the Auburn win coming when it did means a lot of our freshmen are caught up early as Bulls’ fans. I think that will also be reflected in apparel sales. It’s all good.”*But just to keep the Bulls humble: Neither the (AP) writers’ (26) nor the ( USA Today ) coaches’ (27) poll ranked USF in the top 25 after the dramatic Auburn win. Moreover, the coaches’ poll had Auburn — Auburn! — ahead of USF at 26.

Just a hunch, but head coach Jim Leavitt might be using that snub to his advantage. North Carolina will find out first.

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