Cincinnati (4-3, 2-2) opened with a 37-point rout of East Carolina and a 15-13 win at suddenly mighty West Virginia. But the Bearcats lost three straight before last week's 33-29 win at Army. Junior quarterback Gino Guidugli is in his third season as a starter. Junior Richard Hall is averaging 111 rushing yards. Junior defensive end Trent Cole, a preseason all-conference choice, leads UC in tackles (65) and tackles for loss (13).
ROD GILMORE, GOT A MINUTE?
Rod Gilmore is one of college football's most astute analysts. A former star cornerback at Stanford, Gilmore got into broadcasting "by accident." He was hired by ESPN in 1996 (though he still works as an attorney) and is part of the ESPN2 crew for tonight's Cincinnati at USF game with Sean McDonough and Mike Golic. Gilmore took part in perhaps the most famous finish in sports history, with Cal beating Stanford in 1982 on "The Play," a game-ending, five-lateral, kickoff return culminating in Cal's Kevin Moen crashing into a Stanford trombone player after scoring the winning touchdown.
PY: Were you on Stanford's kickoff team when Cal pulled off the "The Play?"
RG: "(Laughs). I was not on the kickoff team, but I was on the field. I think everybody in the stadium was on the field."
PY: Does it still haunt you?
RG: "It bothered me for a long time afterward because it was my last college game, but I have it all in perspective now, I think. It was great for college football and great for the rivalry, but it was hell for the guys on the team. The guy who was lights out in that game for us was John Elway. He was terrific, unreal."
PY: It is confirmed now that the Red Sox and Cubs are cursed. Did Cal make a deal with the devil that day?
RG: "Absolutely. That's a nice trifecta, those three." (Editor's note: Gilmore's law degree is from Cal.)
PY: Who has been your favorite broadcasting partner(s)?
RG: "They've all been so different. The current group is great; I hadn't done a three-man group before. I had a great season last year with Steve Levy. I got my start with Charley Steiner. I did games with Gary Thorne. Gary and I are both lawyers by profession. We got a kick out of trading legal stories, and we'd send legal invoices back to ESPN."
PY: Your favorite broadcasting story?
RG: "Last season we're in Idaho for Boise State vs. Fresno State. During the broadcast, Steve Levy lost his notes and everything - his depth charts, rosters - everything goes out the window. The wind just took them right out. Our cameraman found a guy in the first deck reading Steve's notes. We were able to get them back. It was so funny."
"One of the best things about the Southern Miss game was I didn't get attacked by dogs. So that was good." - JIM LEAVITT, USF coach, recalling a scary moment when USF played at Southern Miss in 2000. He was chased by a pack of dogs while out for a run.
Five reasons USF will beat Cincinnati, sweep its last four games and go to a bowl:
1. No Prima Donnas. Nobody's agent is complaining about their client being misused. Nobody is prancing through the opponent during pregame. Yet everybody acknowledges the dumb penalties must stop.
2. The Penalties. Washington State leads the nation in penalties and is 7-1. USF led the nation in penalties last season and went 9-2. Rice has the fewest penalties this season and is 1-6. Makes you wonder, eh? USF has the penalties part down pat, with an average of more than 10 a game. The wins should follow.
3. Home Cookin'. The Bulls are 32-3 at Raymond James Stadium. They're not due to lose here again until at least 2005.
4. Big East Dominance. USF is 4-0 vs. Big East teams or soon-to-be Big East teams (i.e. Cincinnati).
5. Because. You gotta believe.
Can USF win its final four games? Possibly. At this point the Bulls figure to be small betting favorites in the next three (they are a 21/2-point favorite tonight) and a small underdog in the finale at Memphis. USF must win out to have the minimum six Division I-A victories necessary to qualify for a bowl. They could, but the odds are against it.