No. 5 USF

Let's start with what we know. Charlie Strong takes over as coach with 16 starters returning from a team which went 11-2 last season.


They have the best QB--Quinton Flowers in the American Athletic Conference and (aside from Lamar Jackson) East of the Mississippi.

They have a schedule, which began with a road win at San Jose State on Saturday night, in which they should be projected as a favorite in every game they play.

At the very least, the Bulls of South Florida, should power their way to a major bowl slot as the best team of the Group of 5 conferences which gets an automatic bid each season. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

With some luck--upsets among the Power 5 elite teams, USF is talented enough to finish 13-0.

Where that puts the Bulls has yet to be determined. The schedule which helps them, also will hurt them at crunch time when the playoff selection committee is choosing its teams to send to the semifinals in the Rose and Sugar Bowls.

Flowers is obviously the key to an offense which averaged 8 yards per carry on first down last season.

Defensively, there will be some challenges. The Bulls didn't come close to pitching a shut out last season and won their games by outscoring their opponents. In their two losses to FSU and Temple, they allowed 101 points. That needs to be fixed, but Strong has 7 of the top 9 tacklers returning, which can be regarded with mixed emotions, I suppose.

But new coaches have been teaching new techniques for the past 9 months. Let's see what happens.

This is a stretch pick--Most projections have South Florida in the Top 15 to 20 range. I look at the schedule and see a string of wins which should keep them climbing until November. After that, let's see who is standing and how far these Bulls can run.[/membership]