Bulls set to kickoff season on road against San Jose St

Written by Parker Boyce

Tampa, FL – The South Florida Bulls entered the offseason with momentum after escaping the Birmingham Bowl with a 46-39 overtime victory over South Carolina, which stretched their winning streak to five and pushed their final record to 11-2 overall. USF was 7-1 in conference play, with only a 46-30 loss to Temple standing between them and the American Athletic Conference Championship Game.

After such a strong finish last year, the Bulls enter the new season with a new head coach – Charlie Strong – and new expectations as the heavy favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. Ranked No. 19 in the preseason AP Top 25 (the only Group of 5 teams in the poll), South Florida has the inside track to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

The Bulls will travel to face an early test with an August kickoff against San Jose State. The Spartans do not have expectations nearly as high as USF after posting a 4-8 record last season, but a 2,800-mile flight from Tampa to the Bay Area is a great equalizer. Plus, with a veteran offensive line, quality defensive playmakers and new head coach Brent Brennan to inject new life into the program; San Jose State could surprise the Mountain West in 2017, and maybe even Strong and the Bulls.

Charlie Strong’s story is well known all around college football as one of the best coaches to coach college football. The former head coach at Louisville and Texas, Strong built the Cardinals into a consistent winner but couldn’t win enough in Austin. Charlie Strong was fired by Texas after the 2016 season with a 16–21 record in three seasons, one month after leaving Texas, Strong was hired at South Florida. All eyes will be on Coach Strong’s first game as the new USF Bulls head coach as they take on the Spartans.

A key asset for Strong going into the season is Senior leadership on the offensive side of the ball in Quinton Flowers, is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the nation. Flowers threw for 2,812 yards and 24 touchdowns with only seven interceptions last season and added 1,530 yards and 18 TDs on the ground to earn AAC Player of the Year honors. Flowers also has plenty of weapons at his disposal with explosive wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling, talented receiver Tyre McCants and tight end Mitchell Wilcox, who has an NFL future.

On the flip side, the Spartans have a huge question mark behind center. Six quarterbacks entered fall camp to compete for the starting spot in Brennan’s up-tempo offense, with sophomore Josh Love, junior Michael Carrillo and freshman Montel Aaron, the top candidates and a couple of true freshmen also in the mix. He threw for 392 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions overall.

USF is a heavy favorite, and for a good reason. The gap between the two quarterbacks is huge, and Flowers gives South Florida a big edge in playmaking ability. The Bulls are the more talented team, and hold an advantage in every position group other than offensive line.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST from Spartan Stadium in San Jose, CA on Saturday, August 26th. You can catch the game on CBS Sports Network as the Bulls get their season underway.

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