Most important game: USF

We have reached the finale of our series, with USF looking to make some noise in Year 1 of the Willie Taggart era.

To read previous entries, click here.


Most important game: Oct. 12 at UConn

Why: If you read Thursday's installment on UConn's most important game, you will see some similarities to today's with USF. An attainable goal for a USF team that returns just four offensive starters from a year ago is bowl eligibility. That means taking care of business. And, for a team that won just three games last season and has a new head coach this season, that also means stealing a game or two on the road.

It's worth noting again that the Bulls' only conference win last season came against UConn, which should be improved. Things won't get easier playing that game away from home, either. But it is a game that the Bulls probably need to win if they want to get to six wins this season.

Give the program plenty of credit, as its nonconference slate is no joke. A Sept. 7 trip to Michigan State is followed three weeks later by a date with Miami (FL). Other nonconference home tilts are against McNeese State and Florida Atlantic.

Louisville, the class of the conference, awaits USF one game and two weeks after the Bulls' trip to East Hartford, Conn. Then comes a four-game stretch against the conference newcomers, starting with games at Houston, against Memphis and against SMU (and followed by a trip to UCF).

If USF can get to three wins before that stretch -- with the first two coming against its non-AQ nonconference foes, the third coming against UConn -- the Bulls will be in solid position to try to win three of their last five games and go bowling. (They close Dec. 7 at Rutgers.)

The Huskies return their top quarterback, running back and all five starting offensive lineman from 2012. But it was the defense that made things happen for UConn last season, and four of those standouts were just drafted. The line struggled and, regardless of improvement, will have difficulty going up against Aaron Lynch and the rest of the Bulls' defensive line.

Three months away from the season, it looks like the Oct. 12 clash between USF and UConn could be decisive in either's bowl dreams for 2013.