Willie Taggart entered this season squarely on the hot seat, needing at least a bowl berth to ensure that he survived past 2015 at USF.
Though the calendar has just recently turned to October, the dream of a bowl game is fleeting for the Bulls and they are in desperate need of a win this weekend against Syracuse.
USF’s season started off well enough win a 51-3 drubbing of Florida A&M, and a 34-14 loss to Florida State the next week was far from unexpected. However, the Bulls followed up their loss to the Seminoles with a 35-17 defeat at the hands of Maryland. Surrendering 35 points and 411 yards to a Terrapin offense that has otherwise looked atrocious is downright embarrassing.
Next up after a bye week was the Bulls’ conference opener at home against 4-0 Memphis, a golden opportunity for USF to get back on track with a huge victory to kick off AAC play.
It looked like the Bulls just might have a chance to pull it off when they took a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. They had scored on their first two possessions of the game, inspiring hope that the USF offense could exploit Memphis’ porous defense throughout the entirety of the game.
However, the Tigers would immediately answer with a touchdown of their own and would go on to score 24 unanswered points, while the USF offense sputtered and failed to get anything going. After scoring on their first two possessions, the Bulls followed it up with six consecutive punts and a fumble. They would eventually score again late in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 24-17, but by then it was too late and the opportunity to pull off the upset had been squandered.
Now, USF sits at 1-3 and it’s an uphill battle to reach bowl eligibility. This Saturday’s game against Syracuse is of the utmost importance for the Bulls, as another loss will really leave them in dire straits.
The Orange are 3-1 and coming off a bye week. They won their first three games of the season, before falling to LSU 34-24. Still, Syracuse gave the Tigers quite a scare and was in it until the very end.
The quarterback situation is a little unsteady for the Orange, but they boast a solid rushing attack and a stout defense that could cause problems for a USF offense that has struggled so far this year.
Clearly, this is going to be a tough matchup for USF to win, but it has left itself in a situation where, pardon the horrible cliché, losing really isn’t an option. Another defeat, this time on homecoming weekend, would drop the Bulls to 1-4 and demoralize the team further.
A victory not only moves them to 2-3, but also could be a major confidence booster as the team prepares for winnable games against UConn and SMU in the following two weeks.
The clock is ticking on the Willie Taggart era and the Bulls need to turn things around quickly to salvage a bowl berth. That starts with a win this weekend over Syracuse.