Top 25 teams and games — No. 19 USF Bulls

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:55 p.m.

Team No. 19 South Florida

The buzz: The Bulls return 18 starters from a team that climbed as high as No. 2 in the nation last season before fading down the stretch. This could be the season that USF breaks through for its first-ever Big East title, which would lead to its first BCS bowl appearance.

Difference-maker: Junior quarterback Matt Grothe was a threat on every play for the Bulls last season, leading USF in passing ( 2,670 yards) and rushing (872 yards). Grothe has accounted for 48 touchdowns (29 passing, 19 rushing) during his career at USF.

The upside: USF returns 10 starters from an offense that averaged 34.7 points and 414 yards per game last season. The offense should carry USF early. Recent success has led to more fans filling Raymond James Stadium, creating more of a home field advantage.

The downside: USF's defense, shaky at times last season, will need to replace starting cornerbacks Trae Williams (second-team All-Big East) and Michael Jenkins (first-team All Big-East, NFL first-round draft pick). Special teams is another area of concern. Junior kicker Delbert Alvarado missed 10 field goal attempts last season.

Schedule factor: The Bulls potentially could get off to another fast start if they beat upstart Kansas at home on Sept. 12. The conference schedule gets tougher, later with home games against Rutgers (Nov. 15) and Connecticut (Nov. 22) before the season finale Dec. 6 at West Virginia.

Game No. 19 South Florida at West Virginia

Where: Morgantown, W. Va.

When: Dec. 6

Why it's sexy: As two of the top projected teams in the Big East this season, this could serve as the unofficial league championship game. Plus, West Virginia will be out for revenge after losing at home to the Bulls two seasons ago.

Preseason buzz: You have to think that USF fans have this game circled on their calendars. There's a strong possibility this game could determine whether the Bulls will reach their first BCS bowl game in school history.

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