The University of South Florida football team will load on the buses and head for Tallahassee today for their Saturday noon meeting with 18th-ranked Florida State, it's a chance for the Bulls to earn recognition and respect.
Florida State University is a heavy two-touchdown favorite to handle the challenge of the University of South Florida. Here's what has to happen for USF to win this game:
The defense has to have the game of its life.
To date, the Bulls have beat-up on three teams that are what's known as "scheduled wins." No one knows if this team is any good. Defensive end George Selvie needs to show that he's more than hype. Forget the excuses that he's double-teamed. Pro prospects overcome double teams and still dominate. That is precisely what he needs to do and the rest of the defense needs to do.
They need to tackle and try and stop FSU from running the football. If they don't it will be a long afternoon at Doak Campbell. They have the D-line and linebackers to do the job. The secondary has young talent and they have to have a great game.
The offensive line has to stand up and be counted.
The offensive line has had three "practice" games to gel and now comes the ultimate test against a big, fast FSU defensive line. The o-line has to show up in a big way and make the offense go. USF needs to run the football to allow the passing game to open up for first-time starter B.J. Daniels.
No crucial penalties.
Over the years, this team has been known for key penalties and suffers from too many yards lost to those penalties.
If the Bulls can eliminate those mistakes, they'll have a better chance to win.
USF simply has to win the turnover game. They have to force FSU to make mistakes and NOT make any of their own. It's a simple fact in all of college football and will hold true again on Saturday.
Great special teams.
Head coach Jim Leavitt has been working the special teams with assistant coach John Hendrick overtime and now they need to perform. Biggest question mark is walk-on placekicker Eric Schwartz. He hasn't been under the gun and Saturday, if the game is close, he'll find out what big-time pressure is all about.
B.J. Daniels needs to play with poise.
With Matt Grothe done for the season, it's up to B.J. Daniels, a rare talent who lacks game experience. Look for offensive coordinator Mike Canales to put him in a position to succeed. Best thing the Bulls can do to help him is run the football with Mo Plancher and the returning Mike Ford performing like they never have before.
Receivers need to make big plays.
Carlton Mitchell needs to break some long plays. He can and perhaps he will. FSU was certainly vulnerable to big plays against Miami.
Good coaching by Leavitt is a must.
Jim Leavitt needs to prove himself on Saturday. This is all about preparation and he and his staff will find out if they've done a good job. They also need to make great in-game decisions.
There you have it—the formula for success.
When you add it all up, it's pretty simple:
To win, USF needs to play the game of it's life, the near-perfect game.