What's at stake? More than just a game.

For as long as anyone can remember, the state of Florida has had three big time college football programs. Florida, Florida State and Miami are the universities that make up the "Big 3". In recent years, South Florida has been making a push in attempts to make it a Big 4. A win on Saturday could give them a legitimate argument.

Outsider. Little Brother. The red-headed stepchild. All terms that have been used to describe the University of South Florida by the "Big 3" since they joined the FBS in 2001. It has always been Florida, Florida State and Miami. Then a huge gap before mentioning USF, UCF, FIU, FAU, etc. Although the state of Florida is known for football, there are only three real teams.

This weekend, USF has a chance to truly change previous mindsets of their young, but solid program. Ask most USF fans, and they will tell you that their win at Auburn or the win over #5 West Virginia in 2007 are the two biggest wins in their school's short history. After all, those wins helped boost the Bulls as high as #2 in the polls and gain national attention for the first time ever before a late season collapse.

Well today, nobody other than USF fans really remember either of those wins. What everyone will take note of, is if the Bulls can march into Doak Campbell Stadium and take down one of the "Big 3" for the first time ever. Before the Bulls can earn national respect, they have to earn respect within their own state first. This is their chance.

So what is really at stake here? One of the biggest impacts of the game if USF can walk away with the victory won't take place this season, but in the future. A USF win wouldn't just hurt FSU's record this season, or just FSU for that matter. One of the biggest impacts of this game could potentially be in the recruiting.

If USF wins this weekend, they will have ammo they have never had before when talking to elite recruits within the state. They will finally be able to ask recruits why they would want to go to one of the "Big 3" and compete for time when they can go to USF, start earlier and beat the other elite teams within the state "Just like when we went into Doak and beat the Seminoles."

So far, none of the "Big 3" has lost a major recruit to the Bulls, but once the first big time athlete selects USF over any of them, other big time athletes will take notice. Just like that, instead of battling just two other major programs within the state for elite athletes, there will be three other schools to fight for signatures in February.

It may not take off instantly, but it will be the first step the Bulls take to truly making the "Big 3" and "Big 4". The more big wins and big recruits the Bulls get, the worse off the real "Big 3" will be. Eventually, USF will play and beat a member of the "Big 3", but the later it happens, the better.

USF has great opportunity this weekend, but so does Florida State. The Seminoles have the opportunity to crush the Bull's dreams of becoming an elite program in the state of Florida.

It is for this reason that this is not just a game for Florida State. The Seminoles are coming off of a huge win and must avoid a letdown. The Seminoles need to wake up early, get focused and take it to USF from the opening kickoff Saturday afternoon. And Miami and Florida, although silent about it, will be in their corner hoping that the Tribe runs the Bulls right out of Tallahassee. And out of the talks of a "Big 4", at least for now.

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