The University of South Florida football team won perhaps the biggest game in school history by beating Notre Dame this past weekend. Skip Holtz returned to his roots in South Bend, Ind. where both he and his father, Lou, coached to capture a tremendous victory for the Bulls and for Holtz personally.
Although the game received much more media coverage due to two lengthy weather delays, two major sports stories also unfolded at Notre Dame Stadium – how good USF’s defense looked and how inept the Fighting Irish looked overall.
The Bulls have always been known for their play on the defensive side of the ball. Ever since the team vaulted to No. 2 in the nation back in 2007, the Bulls have had some of the toughest, hard-working players on the field taking on a variety of offensive attacks. USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder should receive major kudos for their effort last Saturday as the defense essentially won the game for the Bulls. They recorded five total turnovers including a 96-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Kayvon Webster. USF also had three interceptions, two of which were in the endzone to halt two potential scoring drives by Notre Dame.
On the other side of the field, the Irish looked completely out of sync in a home game they were predicted to win by at least 10 points. Clearly, head coach Brian Kelly has his work cut out for him in his second year with a tough schedule on tap. Pulling starting quarterback Dane Crist for backup Tommy Rees at halftime appeared to be a smart move as Rees completed 24 of 34 passes for 296 yards and two TD’s. But it also shows the uncertainty ahead in South Bend, thanks in large part to USF’s defensive effort.
Don’t let the stormy weather rain on the significance of this win for USF. Any team that can beat Notre Dame at home is special because of how hard it is to do. The rich tradition of the program makes every Irish football game a major event in the Hoosier State, and rightfully so. Just look at the history of the program. However, for a few hours – or more like six – the USF Bulls enjoyed the national spotlight on NBC and also took another step in becoming a team that all college football fans will recognize one day.