Looking forward to real, live football, NoleNation takes a run through Florida State’s 2012 schedule, going game-by-game to find the best storylines and matchups of the upcoming season.
Saturday, Sept. 29: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
2011 record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East). After a 4-0 start to the season in 2011, South Florida fell apart down the stretch, dropping seven of its final eight games, with only a November victory over Syracuse keeping the Bulls from a winless conference season.
Coach: Skip Holtz (13-12, third season)
Series record: Second meeting. South Florida won 17-7 in Tallahassee in 2009
Players to watch: B.J. Daniels (QB, Sr.) threw for 2,585 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and rushed for 601 yards and six TDs; Sterling Griffin (WR, Jr.) caught 43 passes for 530 yards and three touchdowns; Demetris Murray (RB, Sr.) finished third on the Bulls with 503 rushing yards last season, but led the team with eight touchdowns; DeDe Lattimore (LB, Jr.) made 94 tackles, including 13 for a loss and had seven sacks in 2011; Kayvon Webster (CB, Sr.) had 49 tackles and two interceptions last season.
It's revenge. It's unlikely this rivalry will reach the proportions of FSU's games against Miami or Florida any time soon, but the 17-7 loss to South Florida in 2009 remains one of the most stinging in Seminoles history. It was a huge upset for USF, although the talent disparity wasn't as vast as the historical one. It might have been the game that sealed the fate for longtime head coach Bobby Bowden, who was pushed into retirement at year's end.
The hangover effect. Jimbo Fisher should be able to count on that 2009 loss as ample motivation for the Seminoles, but there is some cause for concern in terms of the timing of this game. It comes on the heels of a potentially season defining showdown with Clemson, so it's certainly possible there could be something of a hangover effect -- both in terms of motivation and health. Moreover, five weeks into the season this will be FSU's first road test. Add to it the fact that FSU will be carrying the weight of huge expectations, while the upstart Bulls will view this as the biggest game of the year, and there's certainly the potential for an upset.