South Florida’s current woes could be traced back to last year, when the Bulls began the season on a four-game winning streak that included an opening victory at Notre Dame.
In the fifth game, however, the Bulls went to Pittsburgh and with an opportunity to shine in a nationally televised Thursday night game, instead lost a 44-17 decision to the Panthers.
In the remaining seven games, the Panthers would win only once more, and after that promising beginning to the season, didn’t make a bowl game for the first time since 2004.
Combined with that finish and the start to this year, the Bulls have gone 4-14 since that loss to the Panthers and are only 2-10 in Big East games over that span.
But as they prepare for the visit by the Panthers in their season finale, the Bulls aren’t thinking along the lines of revenge as motivation.
“I don’t think this is a revenge game,” coach Skip Holtz said. “I don’t think of it along those lines. I think more than anything else it’s an opportunity to redeem ourselves more than it is revenge.”
How much redemption the Bulls, who are 3-8 overall and 1-5 in the conference, can achieve by winning and thereby keep a 5-6 Pittsburgh team from qualifying for a bowl game might be a matter for debate.
But Holtz, who was lamenting the many close losses the Bulls have had before the routs by Cincinnati and Miami in the last two games, insists it is a factor.
“I do think redemption is definitely part of the equation this week to prove what kind of team we really have here,” he said.