We're not big on things like The Will To Win or grit or hustle around here. We're much more sabermetrically and mathematically inclined in analyzing how teams are performing, so let's take a look at how the Bulls are doing by the numbers.
We've learned a lot more about sports over the last few years. We know that going for it on 4th down a lot more is a good idea. We know creating fumbles isn't luck, but recovering them is. And we know over the long term that luck balances, but in the short term luck can be a factor in success. Just reading a won-lost record isn't the best way to judge a team. Those people that just yell "scoreboard!" are knuckle-dragging Neanderthals that might also believe Zeus is throwing thunderbolts from the sky to create lightning.
And quite frankly, the advanced statistics are not kind to the USF Bulls. USF is dead last in the country in drives that result in at least one first down. They are also dead last in the advanced stat of offensive efficiency (it's complicated, trust us). USF won a football game on Saturday without crossing the 26-yard line with an offensive play against a winless football team, which is how you end up 123rd of 125th in gaining available yards.
What is boils down to is USF's offense is as atrocious as you imagine, and possibly even worse than you've conceived. And that's with four of the five games scored by Football Outsiders (the FCS game doesn't count, which might make these stats even worse) having Marcus Shaw in the backfield. If he's unable to get healthy or return to his previous form... how much worse would USF be from even this low standard the rest of the way?
Can you win football games without even replacement level offense? Potentially, sure. You can generate defensive touchdowns and kick a bunch of field goals, which is exactly what USF has done to win the last two games. And USF does have an unusually excellent kicker, unlike most #collegekickers, which means getting to merely the 30 yard line most likely means points (USF is 2nd in the country in field goal efficiency & 30th in special teams efficiency). But to win this way, you're most likely going to have to play flawless defense to get wins as well as get a bit lucky.
The overwhelming likelihood is this is not sustainable. At some point during winning football games, USF is going to have to drive a football down the field and punch it in for a touchdown. They have failed to do this on their last 26 drives against defenses ranked 65th (Cincinnati) and 10th (Connecticut) overall. They're also the first team in 13 years all of college football to win two consecutive games without scoring an offensive touchdown.
You could make a very strong argument that as bad as a 2-4 record is, USF is very lucky to have it. The Bulls can also claim to be a bit unlucky as well as you're expected to recover about 50% of your fumbles, but USF has lost the rock eight times and recovered it only once. However that's just about the only stat I can find in the Bulls favor, and the rest seem to go against them.
Winning the two games we have is outstanding work by the Bulls, and we congratulate the team on their success. But to have any more this season, they're most likely going to need to improve drastically when they have the ball. There's no time like the bye week to start to make that happen.