South Florida is struggling this season, but BYU has its own problems to worry about

(Michael Dwyer | The Associated Press) South Florida linebacker Brian Norris (29) and defensive end Jason Vaughn (40) celebrate with teammates after defeating Connecticut in an NCAA college football game in East Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

South Florida got a much-needed win at UConn, beating the Huskies 48-22 on the road and improving 2-3. But is that a sign that USF is settling in or will the Bulls continue to struggle throughout the season?

BYU is also in limbo.

The Cougars had a couple of impressive wins, both in overtime, against Tennessee and USC, but they were sloppy against Utah and Washington made a show of them. Their last game, at Toledo, was decided in the last minute when the Rockets took advantage of a BYU turnover to win 28-21.

After the Toledo game, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake recognized that the team’s consistency — or lack thereof — has been an issue this year.

“We weren’t really able to generate much momentum, and when we did have it, we seemed to give it up,” Sitake said of the Toledo game.

Before Saturday's win, USF head coach Charlie Strong said he had talked to the team about playing with confidence and believing in themselves.

He told them they know who they are, so play to their ability.

“We have not been playing up to our ability up to this point,” Strong said. “We had played four games, we were sitting there 1-3, but I knew we were a much better team than what we were showing.”


When • Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT

TV • CBS Sports Network

Strong was named the program's fourth head coach Dec. 11, 2016. That year, the Bulls finished 11-2, with a win at the Birmingham Bowl against South Carolina.

In Strong’s first season, it seemed the team picked up right where it left off. After starting the season on a seven-game winning streak, the Bulls finished 10-2, once again playing in the Birmingham Bowl.

But in 2018, the Bulls finished the regular season 7-5. It was good enough to make it to the hometown Gasparilla Bowl, but not enough to beat Marshall, which won 38-20.

It's still kind of early to tell whether USF will improve from last season or keep struggling and fight to be bowl eligible at the end of the season.

“We know this: We’ve still got to get better,” Strong said. “We have to improve. Big opponent next week. Really big opponent next week. And we have to play well.”

The Bulls will host BYU for their homecoming game Oct. 12, but so far, they haven’t played their best at home.

They had a good showing against South Carolina State, beating the Bulldogs 55-16, but Strong said they were embarrassed against Wisconsin in their season opener and against Southern Methodist on Sept. 28.

The Badgers shut out USF 49-0, while SMU beat the Bulls 48-21.

BYU, which is also sitting on a 2-3 record, can probably relate to USF’s struggles. Saturday’s game will most likely be decided by turnovers.

It will also be the Cougars’ third trip out east this season.

“But we’ve got to play well at home,” Strong said. “It’s a homecoming crowd and we need to get this team ready to go.”

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