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Fans now cheer for vanquished foes, and others
Pete Lembo appreciates the love he's getting from USF fans.
By GREG AUMAN
Published October 17, 2007
Every time quarterback Jake Christensen, left, and Iowa celebrate, USF fans have cause to cheer too. Why? It's a long story.
TAMPA - Pete Lembo appreciates the love he's getting from USF fans.
The Elon coach, whose team lost 28-13 to the No.2 Bulls in Tampa to open this season, realizes every win his team gets helps USF's strength of schedule.
"It's something that's certainly been talked about among our coaches and players," said Lembo, whose Phoenix 4-2 jumped into the Sports Network's Division I-AA media poll Top 25 this week. "To see USF climb so quickly, it's hard not to be a fan. You just root for them naturally. The ongoing joke here is hoping that some of that bonus money trickles up our way."
The Bulls almost certainly need to win out to get into the national championship game, but here are five more rooting interests USF fans should have in the next few weeks.
- Auburn: Just by winning, the Tigers can lend more value to USF's overtime victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium. More immediately, if they could somehow win Saturday night at LSU, they'd remove the biggest one-loss threat to pass an undefeated Bulls team.
- Virginia Tech: Oct.25 in Blacksburg, the Hokies can knock off No.3 Boston College, the toughest game left on the Eagles' schedule. If the Hokies can't do it, USF fans will - gulp - have to root for Florida State to beat Boston College Nov.3 in Chestnut Hill.
- Indiana and Iowa: Top-ranked Ohio State doesn't play these two Big Ten teams, so every time they win a league game, it hurts the Buckeyes' strength of schedule. If Indiana (5-2) can beat Penn State or Wisconsin in the next two weeks, it further discounts the Big Ten; if Iowa can win at Purdue this week, it devalues Ohio State's only win against a then-ranked opponent.
- Florida: With two losses, the Gators can't reasonably get back in the BCS title game picture, but they too can help out their state brethren by picking off two one-loss SEC teams, first this week at Kentucky, then Nov.10 at South Carolina.
- West Virginia: If the Mountaineers can win out, it not only makes USF's win in Tampa all the more impressive, but also gives USF an easier path to a Big East championship. If West Virginia wins out and USF beats Connecticut, the Bulls could even lose one Big East game and still be the league champion.
If USF and West Virginia were to finish as the only teams with one Big East loss, the Bulls would get the league's BCS berth, even if West Virginia were ranked higher in the BCS standings. The Big East's first tiebreaker in a two-way tie is head-to-head results.
WE MEET AGAIN: Want proof women's soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown is taking her first season seriously?
A weather-shortened match must go at least 70 minutes to be official, and USF's home game Oct.5 against Georgetown was called due to lightning two seconds before the 70-minute mark with the score tied at 0.
Schilte-Brown could have lobbied for a draw and taken one point in the league standings, but instead, she scheduled a full rematch, set for Tuesday, and a shot at the three points that come with a win.
"Three games in six days is insane, but they're in the same boat," Schilte-Brown said. "I think we're a team that keeps getting better, so hopefully we're a better team the second time around."
The Bulls, 3-8 in conference play a year ago, are 3-2-1 and sit fourth in the Big East's American division. Only the top five in each division make the conference tournament.
THIS AND THAT: It has been 17 months since USF got $2.78-million from Hills-borough County to build a dual-use track and field complex. Athletic director Doug Woolard said construction will begin this spring, with a new facility in place by the start of school next fall. ... Actor Mark Consuelos, husband of Kelly Ripa and one of USF's most famous alums, is scheduled to attend the football game Thursday at Rutgers. ... Volleyball's home match Tuesday against North Florida will benefit the "Dig for the Cure" campaign to raise money for breast cancer research. Make pledges or donations at gousfbulls.com.