USF Bulls — 2012 Syracuse Football preview

As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will continue its Big East schedule against USF at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27.

USF will try for its first conference title

A STEP BACK?: Time flies. USF has been in the Big East for eight seasons now and has shown flashes of brilliance at times. There was the 2007 season, when the Bulls rose to No. 2 in the rankings for one glorious week and a 4-0 start last year capped by a win at Notre Dame. But for all of the hype surrounding the Bulls in past years, they have yet to seriously contend for a Big East title and a BCS game. It’s puzzling, because USF has all the tools to be a powerhouse. It’s in one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country and has a large student body. But with a lack of football tradition and, for that matter, a lack of a stadium to call its own, USF is still waiting for that one breakout year. South Florida took a step back last year, finishing the season 5-7 after the fast start, missing a bowl game for the first time since 2004.

» More SU Football: Syracuse v. UConn preview

WHO TO WATCH FOR: Statistically, quarterback BJ Daniels had the best season of his career in 2011. He completed a career best 58.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,604 yards and cut his interceptions from 13 in 2010 down to seven in 2011. He was also still effective on the ground, rushing for 601 yards and six touchdowns. But Daniels knows that his legacy at USF goes beyond the statistics. If USF misses a bowl game for the second straight year, that is what he’ll be remembered by. But he’ll have a steady receiver in junior Sterling Griffin (43 receptions) to throw to, and an offensive line that returns three starters to make sure that doesn’t happen.

» Related: Meet Syracuse defensive back Shamarko Thomas

PREDICTION: The Bulls have owned the Orange since joining the conference in 2005, outscoring them 220-83. This one is right in the midst of Big East play for both teams and will mostly likely be the last time these two teams meet in conference play. There will be no repeat of 2010 and Daniels will have a solid day at the office. The Bulls send the Orange off to the ACC sporting a 1-7 conference record against them. BULLS 24, ORANGE 13.

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