The whispers have segued to chatter. In time, it may evolve into rumblings, or even a groundswell.
Will college players be allowed to express themselves during the national anthem?
It's a question that has risen in the wake of the widespread protests staged Sunday across the NFL. Conventional argument is, college players are adults with social consciences of their own. If they're old enough to vote and enlist, shouldn't they be afforded a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights (and perhaps learn the consequences thereof)?...
Bulls nickel back Deatrick Nichols and PK Emilio Nadelman, both of whom had career games in Thursday's 43-7 romp of Temple, have been named the American Athletic Conference's defensive and special teams players of the week, respectively.
Nichols had two interceptions, three tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble Thursday, when the Bulls forced six turnovers and surrendered only 85 yards. He now has three career two-interception games, including last season at SMU and the 2015 home triumph against Cincinnati....
Four games into the season, the 18th-ranked Bulls (4-0) have convinced nearly every AP voter they merit a top-25 ranking.
Key word: nearly.
ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis is among only five voters who don't include USF on their latest respective ballot. Last week, USF didn't appear on 18 ballots.
The breakdown of where each AP voter ranked (or didn't rank) USF can be found here. Nine voters have USF at 15th or higher, with four placing them at No. 13. Matt Baker, who votes for the Tampa Bay Times, has USF at No. 22 on his ballot.
The Bulls' ranking is their highest since Week 6 of 2011, when they were 4-0. The following week, they were trounced at Pitt, 44-17....
Each week henceforth, we'll take a look at how USF fared in comparison to the other serious Group of Five contenders for the New Year's Six bowl berth. Presuming that berth will be in the Peach Bowl, we've devised a gauge of sorts measuring each team's New Year's Six chances at this moment in time.
Peachy: In the driver's seat for a Peach Bowl berth
Ripening: A team to watch. New Year's outlook getting stronger
Bruised: Peach Bowl chances took a recent hit
The Pits: Not a serious contender at this time
Boise State (2-2)
This week: lost to Virginia, 42-23
Next week: Idle
The Broncos' 47-44 loss to Washington State earlier this month didn't destroy their New Year's hopes, but that beatdown Friday from Virginia did.
Outlook: The Pits
This week: lost to Texas Tech 27-24
Next week: at Temple
The Cougars' New Year's Six aspirations took a blow with the loss to the Red Raiders, but with Memphis, Navy and USF still on their schedule, they have time to make up ground. Could be difficult with a quarterback controversy brewing.
Northern Illinois (2-1)
This week: Idle
Next week: at San Diego State
After an opening-week loss to Boston College, the Huskies opened some eyes with a 21-17 win at Nebraska. Now, they can really propel themselves into the New Year's Six discussion with a victory Saturday night at San Diego State. As far as their Peach aspirations go, Saturday's a make-or-break game for the Huskies.
This week: defeated Southern Illinois 44-31
Next week: at UCF
The Tigers' victory against UCLA two Saturdays ago has lost a bit of luster, but with UCF, Navy and Houston remaining on their schedule, that shouldn't matter a great deal. We'll stop short of calling Memphis-UCF a New Year's Six elimination game, but it feels that way.
This week: defeated Cincinnati 42-32
Next week: at Tulsa
Considering how effectively QB Zach Abey has acclimated himself to the starter's role, we won't dare sleep on the Midshipmen. The quality-win opportunities (Memphis, UCF, Notre Dame, Houston, Army) are plenteous. We easily can envision a Navy-USF showdown for the AAC title.
San Diego State (4-0)
This week: defeated Air Force 28-24
Next week: home vs. Northern Illinois
Of the teams USF doesn't play, the 19th-ranked Aztecs represent the Bulls' greatest obstacle to Atlanta. Their earlier Power Five conquests of Arizona State and Stanford look much more impressive today, considering those teams defeated Oregon and UCLA -- respectively -- Saturday night. USF, by comparison, won't be able to boast even one -- much less two -- quality non-conference triumphs.
This week: defeated Maryland 38-10
Next week: home vs Memphis
Considering the collateral damage they sustained from Hurricane Irma (two games postponed, 23-day layoff), the Knights' convincing win at Maryland could generate sentimental support from College Football Playoff committee (and AP) voters. They really launch themselves into the New Year's Six conversation with a victory next weekend against Memphis (and USF fans would be wise to begrudgingly pull for a Knights triumph).
This week: defeated Temple 43-7
Next week: at East Carolina
Even with the No. 18 Bulls' lingering offensive issues, they should be favored in each remaining game. Arguably their greatest enemy right now is their strength of schedule (or lack thereof). In an ideal scenario, Houston and/or UCF will be ranked when the Bulls face them later this fall, giving USF a chance at two resume-boosting wins. A third could come against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference title game. Nutshell -- Yes, the Bulls need UCF to keep winning.
The USF baseball team, under new coach Billy Mohl, has announced its benefit golf tournament will be held Nov. 3 at TPC Tampa Bay.
“As the new head coach of this program, I am looking forward to meeting all the alumni who have made this place what it is today,” Mohl said in a news release.
“Without their support, this program would not be where it is. I welcome all alumni, fans, and friends of the program to participate in this event. With your support, we are able to give our players the resources they need to be successful and elevate this program to the next level.”...
Don't be shocked if the Bulls women's basketball team nudges past football on the preseason hype meter.
Coach Jose Fernandez's squad, which returns five starters (if you count previously injured senior Laura Ferreira) from a 24-win team, is ranked 19th in Athlon Sports' 2017-18 college basketball preview magazine.
Connecticut (preseason No. 1) is the only American Athletic Conference school ranked higher.
Four of USF's top five scorers are back: 6-foot junior sharpshooter Kitija Laksa (19.2 ppg), 6-foot F Maria Jespersen (14.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg), PG Laia Flores (6.1 assists) and AAC Freshman of the Year Tamara Henshaw (7.0 ppg points, 6.8 rpg).
Ferreria, who averaged 9.6 points as a sophomore but was limited to nine games last season due to plantar fascia issues, also is healthy again. So too is 5-9 G Enna Pehadzic, a former Denmark under-18 national team member sidelined by an ACL tear last season.
Six-foot-2 Northern Arizona transfer Alyssa Rader, the Big Sky Conference's Outstanding Freshman two seasons ago (14.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg), also now is eligible. The freshman class includes two five-star recruits from Spain, F Silvia Serrat and PG Alba Prieto.
USF's non-conference slate -- arguably the toughest in program history -- commences with the Nov. 10 season opener at home against LSU....
TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.
That's roughly 335 days to stew, or nearly one day (give or take) for each of the 319 rushing yards they surrendered last October at Lincoln Financial Stadium. In Thursday night's rematch, USF's defensive players had vindication to attain, face to save, fury to burn....
TAMPA — They've pulled it off with offensive fizz and defensive flatness, and vice versa. They've achieved it on North Dale Mabry and neutral sites. They've attained it sloppily and convincingly.
But the style points don't matter — yet. For nearly a year, the game-by-game numerators have varied for USF, but going into Thursday's matchup with Temple, victory had remained the common denominator. ...
Even when they do catch a break, the Bulls' beleaguered special teams can't hold on to it. After having four kicks blocked in their first three games, USF managed a positive special teams play in the first quarter when Kano Dillon got a piece of an Alex Starzyk punt. But redshirt freshman Craig Watts fumbled the ball after trying to make the recovery, and the Temple pounced on it.
The tailback rotation of D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice has proven one of the steadiest components of this offense. After Johnson — arguably USF's most versatile player — struggled on his initial handoffs, Tice entered and had a 47-yard TD burst up the middle on the second quarter's opening play. On USF's next play from scrimmage, Johnson ran for 26 yards. By halftime, they already had combined for 131 yards.
So you've got one of the sleekest dual-threat quarterbacks in America, and what do you do on first and goal from the 6? Throw once to a tight end (4-yard gain), misfire to a tall receiver in the end zone (incomplete) and attempt two power runs with a tailback (minus-2 yards). One can almost hear the fan base outcry: Let Quinton be Quinton!...
At this juncture of the program, USF seems on the brink of several team/individual records each week, and tonight's game against Temple is no exception. Here are a few records within reasonable striking distance this evening:
* A victory would be USF's ninth in a row, breaking the program record established during the 2006-07 seasons.
* The Bulls will try to score at least 30 points for the 21st consecutive game, which would extend a streak that currently stands as the nation's longest.
* With 111 rushing yards, Quinton Flowers breaks Tim Tebow's mark for career rushing yards by a Division I quarterback in Florida (2,947).
* Flowers needs one rushing touchdown to take sole possession of the school's career mark. He's currently tied with Marlon Mack (32).
* With four catches, senior D'Ernest Johnson ties Rafael Williams' school record for career receptions by a running back (68).
* Flowers needs one more pass of 50 or more yards to tie B.J. Daniels' record (15) for most in school history.
* With 3,229 career all-purpose yards, Johnson needs 61 to enter USF's career top five in that category (Mack holds the record with 4,107)....
Six American Athletic Conference teams faced off against Power Five opponents last week, with USF crushing Illinois and Memphis slipping past then-No. 25 UCLA. Several teams will wrap up their non-conference schedules this week and turn their attention to conference play.
Here’s a look at how the AAC is stacking up so far, as voted upon by a league-wide panel of beat reporters.
1. USF (3-0): In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Bulls delivered the most inspiring performance of the year Friday, amassing 680 yards in a 47-23 romp of Illinois. The 2,154 first responders (and their families) who were admitted free of charge saw fringe Heisman Trophy candidate Quinton Flowers collect 386 total yards and five touchdowns (four passing) in a performance reminiscent of his dazzling 2016 season. Defensively, the Bulls had three more picks, moving their season total to eight in three contests. They'll host Temple tonight. -- Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times
2. Memphis (2-0): QB Riley Ferguson threw for nearly 400 yards and six TDs, WR Anthony Miller caught nine passes for 185 yards and two scores, and the Tigers slipped past UCLA, 48-45, on Saturday. The nationally-televised win over Josh Rosen and Co. should help vault Memphis into the national spotlight, especially if the Tigers can remain undefeated over the next few weeks. The Tigers will host Division I-AA Southern Illinois on Saturday before opening conference play at UCF. -- Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal
3. Houston (2-0): Kyle Allen set a single-game school record for completion percentage, going 31-of-33 (93.9 percent) in a 38-3 win over Rice in the Bayou Bucket rivalry. The Cougars came within 2:47 of the shutout, a performance that moved them to seventh nationally in scoring defense (9.5 ppg). Houston will put a nation-best 16-game home winning streak on the line Saturday against Texas Tech, which is fourth in the country in scoring at (54 ppg). -- Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle
4. Navy (2-0, 1-0 AAC): The Midshipmen had an early-season bye week and Coach Ken Niumatalolo made it a light week in terms of practice. Navy used the time off to rest and get ready for a visit from Cincinnati. It will be the first meeting between the schools as AAC opponents. -- Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group
5. UCF (1-0): The Knights return to action this week after Hurricane Irma forced the cancellation of another game, this time a nonconference showdown with Georgia Tech. Nearly two weeks have passed since UCF last played a football game and the team is ready to return to some semblance of normalcy this week as the Knights prepare to hit the road for the first time to take on Maryland (2-0) in College Park. This is the second half of a home-and-home series. The Terrapins defeated UCF, 30-24, in double-overtime last year in Orlando. -- Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel
6. SMU (2-1): The Mustangs came out strong against No. 20 TCU, taking an early lead against their oldest rival and staying within six at the end of the third quarter. But TCU put SMU away in the fourth quarter, handing the Mustangs a 56-36 loss. SMU now wants to make sure it doesn't get caught napping against a good Arkansas State team after the emotional loss to TCU, and before conference play starts next week. -- Adam Grosbard, Dallas Morning News
7. Cincinnati (2-1): The Bearcats trailed neighboring rival Miami (Ohio) by 11 with less than three minutes to play, but rallied for a 21-17 road win. It was the 12th consecutive year that Cincinnati has won the Victory Bell series game. A 20-yard TD pass and two-point conversion throw (both from Hayden Moore to Khalil Lewis) brought UC within 17-14. Bearcats S Malik Clements then returned an interception 14 yards for a TD with 1:07 to go for the clincher. The Bearcats will play at Navy on Saturday. -- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer
8. Tulsa (1-2): After leading by 21 in the first half, the Hurricane succumbed at Toledo on Saturday as a result of its flailing defense, falling 54-51 on a walk-off field goal. Tulsa continues to rank last nationally in total defense, having surrendered close to 700 yards and allowing three one-play TD drives. For the first time since 1986, three Hurricane rushers reached the 100-yard mark, and Tulsa racked up 423 rushing yards. New Mexico visits Saturday and is expected to be without its starting and backup quarterbacks because of injuries, but it has one of the stingiest run defenses in the country. -- Kelly Hines, Tulsa World
9. Temple (2-1): Redshirt freshman Quincy Roche was the AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Week after recording four tackles for loss including three sacks in Friday’s 29-21 home win against UMass. The Owls recorded nine sacks. QB Logan Marchi made the honor roll after completing 21 of 37 passes for 248 yards and three TDs. He has yet to throw an interception. Temple visits USF on Thursday. Last season at home, the Owls upset USF, 46-30. -- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer
10. Tulane (1-2, 0-1 AAC): The Green Wave ran right through second-ranked Oklahoma -- for 2 1/2 possessions. Tulane pounded the Sooners for TDs the first two times it had the ball and was driving for a third when QB Johnathan Brantley threw an interception that was returned for a score. Reality set in from there, with Oklahoma piling up more than 600 yards of offense in a 56-14 rout. Next up is a must-win non-conference home game against Army. The Green Wave can’t fall to 1-3 and have a realistic hope of becoming bowl-eligible down the road. -- Guerry Smith, The New Orleans Advocate
11. Connecticut (1-1): The Huskies blew two early opportunities while trailing by seven, with Bryant Shirreffs throwing an interception in the Virginia end zone and fumbling at the Virginia 4-yard line, in a 38-18 loss to the Cavaliers Saturday in Charlottesville. The bigger problem: The Huskies were shredded by Kurt Benkert (program-record 455 passing yards) and gave up 626 yards of offense. That's 1,073 yards allowed by the UConn defense through two games. The Huskies play East Carolina at home Sunday. -- Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant
12. East Carolina (0-3): The Pirates turned back the clock almost six decades on Saturday with their worst home loss since November 1957, a 64-17 beating from No. 16 Virginia Tech in which the Hokies scored 57 unanswered points. Instead of a needed bye week with QB Thomas Sirk and others injured or on the mend, ECU travels to Connecticut on Sunday in a game rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma. -- Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector...
"The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them."
— Temple tailback Ryquell Armstead, who ran for 210 yards in the Owls' 46-30 win against USF last season
TAMPA —- Humidity has noticeably dissipated at USF this week, but the diplomacy is stifling.
Either by mandate or self-restraint (or both), the No. 21 Bulls haven't taken the bait. They've been asked about the humiliation, the embarrassment, the bruising fullback leads Temple inflicted on them last year in the Owls' 46-30 romp in Philadelphia. ...
After months of mixing and matching, followed by a couple of games of trial and error, the Bulls finally appear to have found a solid starting five up front.
After two games at right guard, the Bulls slid senior Cameron Ruff back to center -- where he started all 13 games last season -- and plugged in redshirt sophomore Billy Atterbury at guard. The result: 376 rushing yards and nine explosive plays (20-plus yards) in a 47-23 romp of Illinois.
USF logged nine or more explosive plays only twice last season (Memphis, UCF).
"The o-line performed extremely well," said senior RB Darius Tice, who finished with 105 yards on only 12 carries. "Many times I got the ball and wasn't getting touched 'til way down the field. Sometimes I'm running the ball and they're next to me, and I'm 20 yards down the field. ... They did a great job."
The only glaring hiccups were some early penalties, with Atterbury getting whistled twice (for holding and a false start) in a three-play span in the first half. QB Quinton Flowers was sacked twice, but his 25 official carries were more than double any other player on the field.
"I feel like we did more finishing on blocks, but we still can finish more," senior LG Jeremi Hall said. "I just feel like we out-conditioned them really. We ran a lot of plays (98) and we just kept going. And none of us were really tired, we were just having fun."
INJURY UPDATE: WR Deangelo Antoine, who had a career-best four catches against Illinois, suited up Tuesday but didn't practice, Coach Charlie Strong said. No other player appeared sidelined (i.e. on crutches, in a walking boot, etc.) during the session open to reporters.
"(Antoine) kind of ran around, just don't know where we are right now," Strong said. W"e've still got two days before we make that decision on whether he's gonna play or not."
ODDS AND ENDS: Former Buccaneers Booger McFarland and Joey Galloway will share analyst duties on ESPN's broadcast Thursday. Dave Flemming will handle play-by-play and Laura Rutledge will work the sidelines. ... Count Darius Tice among those who believe USF's attendance will improve. "From this point going forward, I feel like it's only gonna get better because they came out and we put on a show," he said. Actual attendance for Friday's game was 27,619. ... Dominance factoid of the day -- USF has won 13 of its last 15 home games, with 12 of those victories coming by two or more touchdowns. ... USF's 88 first downs are tied for third nationally. ... DT Bruce Hector recorded his 13th career sack against Illinois, moving him into the program's top 10 in that category.
AUDIBLE: "It was just one guy breaking down, a guy comes inside. Then the next one got blocked, and then after that we got it corrected. It's all fixable, so it's a matter of us just putting the right people out there and getting the right people in place, and those things won't happen." -- Strong on the two kicks (one PAT, one field goal) Illinois blocked in the first quarter Friday (Note: Temple has a nation-best 12 blocked kicks since the start of the 2015 season)...
TAMPA — The NCAA's 18-month probe into USF's men's basketball program has ended with the Bulls — proactive in the investigation from the start — avoiding major penalties.
The NCAA announced Tuesday its Division I Committee on Infractions (COI) panel determined former Bulls assistant Oliver Antigua knowingly violated its rules by providing prospects with impermissible housing, transportation and meals, then denying his involvement twice before coming clean....
GAINESVILLE — For the first time this season, Florida coach Jim McElwain didn't have to answer a question about who his starting quarterback will be Saturday.
Feleipe Franks' game-winning, 63-yard touchdown pass against Tennessee erased any lingering doubts that the job is his against Kentucky, and beyond.
"I think it's just kind of a complete maturation and body of work from the time he was here as an early enrollee," McElwain said. "He's done a good job of getting better, especially with his feet."...