Insider: Will The Bulls Go Bowling In 2012?

As the start of college football nears, lots of analysts and fans are evaluating teams and predicting where theirs will fair this season. That is what ESPN 1040 AM’s Bulls Insider Patti McDonald did.

At this point in 2011, USF was a close to second pick to win the Big East title. Skip Holtz was entering his second year, and things were starting to look promising for the Bulls. However, after going 1-5 in 2011 in one possession games and 5-7 overall, reality sank in.

USF missed a bowl game for the first time in seven years.

How is this team good enough to win a conference title this season?

Entering year three at the helm, Holtz has eight starters returning on both offense and defense. He has a senior quarterback in B.J. Daniels and if 2011 was any indication on how Daniels will play, he will be better this season.

Last season, Daniels threw for 2,585 yards, had three touchdowns and seven interceptions. Daniels even had 601 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns. He still however struggled with untimely interceptions. He did mature though, and that was important for him to do in order to perform to his potential.

Entering last season, some thought the Bulls were one year away from being the team the program has been building since former coach Jim Levitt was at the helm.

This is that year.

Will that happen? Are the Bulls going to prove the naysayers wrong and finally jump the just over .500 hurdle?

No one knows the answer to that question just yet, but predictions are pouring in.

The Bulls are primed for a better season. In 2011, more than half of their games were decided on one or two plays. USF was that close to being a 7-5 team instead of a 5-7 one. They went 4-0 at the beginning of the season, but half of those games were against non FBS schools. Then, they lost four of their next five games.

Don’t expect the Bulls to be able to let their guuard against non FBS schools at the beginning of the season. USF’s schedule looks a lot different than it has in previous years. What’s good for the Bulls is that conference play begins the third week of the season, compared to previous seasons when it has began much later. This will force USF to play at a higher intensity level all season long. They won’t be able to let their guard down for the first half of the season when they are facing non FBS schools.

No, this season will be different.

The Bulls won’t be able to rely on Daniels throwing for over 700 plus yards and winning games going unscathed. That’s not a reality anymore. USF just needs to focus on winning games, not winning style points.

USF will do better this season than they did in 2011. With 16 starters returning and a senior quarterback, they better.

Expect them to win at least seven games, if not more. After a close, but disappointing season, USF will come back with a vengeance.

Notable opponents for USF this season include Temple (first year in the Big East) Florida State (Bulls defeated the Seminoles in 2010), and Miami (USF lost a defensive 6-3 game to the Hurricanes last season.)

Below is the entire 2012 USF football schedule.

Saturday Sept. 1 – U.T. Chattanooga

Saturday, Sept. 8 – at Nevada

Saturday, Sept. 15 – Rutgers (subject to change)*

Saturday, Sept. 22 – at Ball State

Saturday, Sept. 29 – Florida State (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)

Saturday, Oct. 6 – at Temple*

Saturday, Oct. 20 – at Louisville*

Saturday, Oct. 27 – Syracuse*

Saturday, Nov. 3 – Connecticut*

Saturday, Nov. 17 – at Miami

Friday, Nov. 23 – at Cincinnati (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)*

Saturday, Dec. 1 – Pittsburgh (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)*

(* Denotes Big East Conference game)