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Football flashback: USF beat Cincy on the way to its first bowl

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In those days, the possibility of a bowl game hovered over the program, too.

In those days, the star running back had just passed 1,000 yards for the second straight year, too.

In those days, the program turned around from a four-win season to something worth watching, too.

It was 10 years ago, and in a lot of ways, things have changed that much for the USF Bulls.

Back then, USF was coming off a huge win and was about to play Cincinnati. It was the third week in November then, too, and the star running back was Andre Hall. It was the first season USF ever got votes in the AP poll.

That week, the Bulls — coached by Jim Leavitt — knocked off Cincinnati 31-16 while Hall had 100 yards rushing. The Bulls’ record went to 6-3 with their third straight victory.

Alas, it would be the last win of the year for USF, which was upset by UConn the next week, then lost to 12th-ranked West Virginia, then lost its first bowl game — the Meinecke Bowl — to N.C. State.

Still, that victory over Cincinnati was special in hindsight.

This year, the Bulls are bowl eligible again, and they have a dynamic running back (Marlon Mack) again. And, you guessed it, here comes Cincinnati again.

Also, the head coach — this time, it’s Willie Taggart — is warning his team that six wins doesn’t guarantee a bowl, it just makes a team eligible for one.

This year, both teams seem able to score. Cincinnati (6-4) has the fourth-ranked passing offense in college football, and USF’s pass defense is only 61st. USF has the 15th-ranked running attack, and Cincinnati is only 88th in stopping it.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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