The last region in Round 1 of the USF Things bracket is the Sporting Events Region. 16 of USF's best (or worst) athletic moments, waiting for your vote.
Almost all of these events happened in the last 10 years or so, because that's what most of our readers remember the most. I don't mean to diminish things like USF basketball winning the 1990 Sun Belt tournament for the school's first NCAA bid, or some of our great baseball teams in the 80s. But the memories are fresher, and in nearly every case the stakes were higher on these games than they were back then.
I'd also like to announce one last-minute change in this Region. It hadn't happened yet when the brackets were announced, but I'm going to add this week's women's basketball NCAA run to the field. It will be the #10 seed, bumping USF-Hofstra softball to #11, the USF-New Mexico Sweet 16 soccer game to #12, and the USF-Florida basketball game from 2001 is now out of the field.
(16) "Big 4" Billboard 58%, (1) Homecoming 42%
(8) Campus Squirrels 90%, (9) Campus Cats 10%
(4) Night Game Tailgates 93%, (13) Noon Game Tailgates 7%
(5) Bull Runner 57%, (12) Library Grenade 43%
(11) Rocky D. Bull 85%, (6) The Andros Song 15%
(14) 1990s USF Logo 67%, (3) SAFE Team Cabs 33%
(10) The Oracle 59%, (7) Free Food 41%
(2) Movies on the Lawn 79%, (15) Parking the First Week of Class 21%
#1 64-12 vs. #16 ANY THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME
64-12 got the #1 seed because this, in retrospect, was the absolute high-water mark of USF football. The Bulls were in the top five coming into the game. They spent a week hearing all kinds of nonsense from cranked-up C. Florida fans and from George O'Leary. And then they went on the field and laid waste to the Knights, with Jim Leavitt running up the score and refusing to take a knee. I think it was the most primal feeling I've ever had after a game.
Thursday night football games are the work of the devil and USF should just forfeit them and save us all the trouble.
#8 USF-PITTSBURGH 2001 vs. #9 USF-LOUISVILLE 2005
The Pittsburgh win in 2001 set the table for many of the upsets and big things that happened down the road. They started with an onside kick, built a 28-7 lead, then made enough big plays down the stretch to come away with a 35-26 upset. It was USF's first win over a power-conference team, and it's still one of the worst losses in Pittsburgh football history.
The Big East welcomed USF to the conference in 2005 with a game against 9th-ranked Louisville, who had been 11-1 in 2004 and was expected to contend right away for the Big East title. Instead, USF threw Amarri Jackson at them. He made a big catch to set up an Andre Hall TD. Then he ran for two scores of his own as the Bulls went up 24-7 at halftime. By the time Chad Simpson took the second-half kickoff to the house, and Jackson threw a TD pass to Derek Carter, the upset rout was secure. Final score: USF 45, Louisville 14, the Bulls' first-ever win over a ranked opponent.
#4 USF-FLORIDA STATE 2009 vs. #13 2007 SUN BOWL
In B.J. Daniels' first start as quarterback, he ran for over 100 yards and hit two long passes to Theo Wilson and Sterling Griffin to help USF knock off the Seminoles 17-7. The Bulls collected four turnovers, while the defensive line was unblockable, racking up five sacks and holding FSU to 19 yards rushing. The result and the 10,000+ USF fans who helped fill up Doak Campbell Stadium were the last straw for FSU fans and administrators, who used this as the launching pad to force out Bobby Bowden.
USF's trip to El Paso for the Sun Bowl is still the highest-profile bowl the Bulls have appeared in. Unfortunately, they drew an Oregon team that could have easily played in the BCS if Dennis Dixon hadn't torn his ACL against Arizona. With nearly a month to get Justin Roper ready, USF's defense didn't stand much of a chance. The score was only 18-14 at halftime, but the Ducks blew it open in the second half. Jonathan Stewart ran for 253 yards as Oregon won 56-21.
#5 USF-AUBURN 2007 vs. #12 USF-NEW MEXICO SOCCER 2011
This game was circled on most people's calendars for months. A USF team that finished the 2006 season strongly, heading up to face a somewhat vulnerable Auburn team on their home field. The Bulls scored touchdowns on their first two drives and forced five turnovers, but couldn't put the game away because Delbert Alvarado kept missing field goals. He finally made one to send the game to overtime, and after the Bulls barely converted a fourth and short to keep the game alive, Grothe hit Jessie Hester with a touchdown pass to win the game 26-23.
We needed a soccer representative on the list, and so the Sweet 16 matchup between USF and New Mexico from the 2011 NCAA tournament was the only choice. In front of a raucous home crowd at Corbett Soccer Stadium, the Bulls knocked off the Lobos in a penalty shootout to advance to the Elite Eight after 120 scoreless minutes. This game was also notable for two Lobos coming unhinged after the game and throwing punches at USF when they got caught up in the Bulls' celebration.
#6 2012 MEN'S BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT vs. #11 USF-HOFSTRA SOFTBALL SUPER REGIONAL
After a 20-year wait, Stan Heath and his 2012 team brought USF back to the NCAA Tournament. Once they got there, they whipped California in a First Four game that was never as close as the 65-54 final score indicated. Then they moved on to Nashville and took down fifth-seeded Temple 58-44 behind some downright nasty defense, and a scoring explosion early in the second half that was capped off by two Toarlyn Fitzpatrick threes. The run ended against Ohio in the third round, but the Bulls had won games in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
Last year's softball Super Regional between USF and Hofstra had it all. Lots of clutch performances on both teams (particularly Sara Nevins, Lindsey Richardson, and Jessica Mouse for USF, and Hofstra's Olivia Galati), a frantic home crowd, some horrendous umpiring, and even Chris Bivins bringing a snake to the games. The Bulls dropped the first game in 11 innings, but rallied to take the last two, including a 2-1 win in the deciding third game to clinch their first trip to the Women's College World Series. Maybe the most dramatic sporting event ever held on the USF campus.
#3 USF-WEST VIRGINIA 2007 vs. #14 "DOG AND TREE" GAME
Still the biggest home game in school history and the highest-ranked opponent USF has beaten. The Bulls sold out Raymond James Stadium for the first time ever, and behind a stifling defensive performance (led by Ben Moffitt's two interceptions), and a patented Matt Grothe "run around for eight seconds, get away from a sure sack, then make a huge play" play, the Bulls knocked off the then #6 Mountaineers 21-13. The roar the crowd made on Moffitt's pick-six in the first quarter may be the loudest that stadium has ever heard.
Last month we started using #TreeWatch as a warning that USF basketball might be a threat to break its all-time futility mark of 36 points in a game. That mark was set against Marquette in 1997, a game that the Bulls lost 71-36 and shot 21.8% from the field. Late in the game, with the Golden Eagles leading 67-33, Marquette coach and noted dick Mike Deane called a timeout so he could have a "teaching moment" with one of his players. That didn't sit well with Seth Greenberg, who said, "Sometimes you're the dog. Sometimes you're the tree. Tonight, we were the tree. But believe me, we will be the dog someday and we will remember this night... what goes around comes around." USF beat Marquette in each of the next two seasons, and then Deane was fired.
#7 USF-GEORGETOWN 2010 vs. #10 2013 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT
"Y'all came to see Dominique Jones play!"
We had to make room for this week's NCAA Tournament performance by the women's basketball team. After winning a tight, nip-and-tuck game over host school Texas Tech, Jose Fernandez's team pulled off the nearly impossible feat of rallying from a 10-point deficit with a minute to play to send their second-round game against California to overtime. Even though the Bulls ultimately lost to the Bears, they won their first-ever game in the NCAAs, and ended their season with full marks for honor and pride.
#2 USF-NOTRE DAME 2011 vs. #15 "VOODOO 5" GAME
A marathon day in South Bend included two severe weather delays that stretched a 3 1/2-hour game into nearly a 7-hour ordeal. Kayvon Webster ran a fumble back 96 yards for a touchdown, B.J. Daniels threw a touchdown pass to Evan Landi, and the Bulls forced five turnovers in a game they never trailed and won 23-20. It was he most memorable win of the Skip Holtz era. He only had seven more wins in the 23 games that followed this one, so it pretty much had to be.
I already wrote 3000+ words about the USF-Connecticut game in 2005. I'd rather not write any more.
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