As many of you fans of the American Conference may know, the crown jewel of the AAC lost a close game against in-conference program, the University of Houston. Coming into the season, South Florida was the shimmer of hope towards legitimacy for the American Conference, and after new head coach Charlie Strong (below) was announced the expectations were sky high. USF won their first seven matchups of the 2017 season but still did not gain much traction in the polls for a few main reasons.
Long story short, yes South Florida did deserve to be dropped from the rankings and the main reason being is that they have not really faced any good competition. Their in-conference schedule has them avoiding big-name AAC programs like Memphis, Navy and SMU and their only real tests were against Houston and then not until their season finale against UCF. The Bulls have a bad strength of schedule and are ranked 109th for the entire FBS.
South Florida also did not do themselves any favors with the committees by scheduling a weak out of conference schedule which included scheduled matchups with UMass (cancelled due to the impact of Hurricane Irma) and San Jose State. When compared to the out of conference schedules of other AAC schools it makes them look even worse. UCF had games scheduled against Georgia Tech (also cancelled due to Hurricane Irma) and Maryland while Memphis scheduled UCLA and SMU faced TCU.
The best case scenario for South Florida would have been to take advantage of their easy schedule and go undefeated behind the play of quarterback Quinton Flowers (above). That is where a bit of the expectations went awry. Flowers was viewed to be capable of having a Lamar Jackson type of impact with the Bulls and how be able to lead USF to maybe a New Year’s Six Bowl Game with the help of a dark horse Heisman run. Unfortunately, the South Florida passing game has been nothing to write home about and is ranked 82nd in yards per game throughout the FBS. Unexpectedly so, the rushing game has been their saving grace and is ranked 9th in the entire NCAA.
With all of that being said, I would not count out Charlie Strong and the University of South Florida just yet. They still have a relatively easy schedule down the stretch of the season and if QB Quinton Flowers can get hot at the right time, who knows? For USF it will all come down to their season finale matchup with UCF, the winner of which will most likely move to the American Conference Championship game.
Cover Photo via The Sports Session
Article Photos via USA Today and CBS Sports