South Florida is coming off what at least is one of the four biggest wins in the school history -- some would argue the biggest, but the wins over instate rivals Florida State and Miami will always have a special place -- but now comes the dangerous part.
A loss to Ball State on Sept. 10 wouldn't take away everything from the victory over the Irish, but it would be a big step backward for a program seeking consistency.
Coach Skip Holtz got his players' attention by noting the Bulls' play in their 23-20 opening win was hardly perfect.
"I think this football team was disappointed in the way that we played because we did make a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball and we can definitely play better," Holtz said "If that's the level that we want to compete at, we're going to have to have to turn and improve this week."
The Bulls are beginning a stretch of three consecutive home games they hope will have them at 4-0 before they have to go back on the road.
They face a quick turnaround after the latter.
They play the Miners on Sept. 24, a Saturday, then have a trip to Pittsburgh the following Thursday in their Big East opener.
--The Bulls hardly were finished celebrating their win at Notre Dame when they got the news that former Tampa Bay Buc Lee Roy Selmon had died the day after the victory. Selmon, the school's athletic director from 2001-04, was instrumental in getting football started at USF in the 1990s when he was associated athletic director. He was only 56 and had suffered a stroke the day before the USF-Notre Dame game.
--If the Bulls can get to 4-0 by sweeping the homestand, it would mark the fourth time in the last five years they will have attained that mark.
--Like USF, Ball State, the Bulls' next opponent, committed no turnovers in winning its season-opener against Indiana.
SERIES HISTORY: This is the first meeting between USF and Ball State.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The key for the Bulls is to get the kind of efficient play out of QB B.J. Daniels that he gave them in the win over Notre Dame. Daniels threw for only 128 yards but avoided the critical turnover that plagued him last year. WRs Sterling Griffin and A.J. Love, both returning from injury, make the receiving corps a deeper and more talented unit.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense bent but didn't break against Notre Dame, forcing turnovers to offset the 508 yards it gave up to the Irish. SS Jon Lejiste and LB Michael Lanaris led the unit with 10 tackles each, but LBs DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington were right behind with nine each. The linebacking corps is one of the best around, and the secondary looks solid despite the passing yardage given up.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The one that I'm most concerned about is the last one." -- Coach Skip Holtz, after his Bulls broke into the AP poll at No. 22 on the first regular-season poll of 2011.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Ball State at USF, Sept. 10 -- Ball State is coming off a 27-20 win over Indiana in its opener. The Cardinals have fallen on lean times since 2008, when they were 12-2 and won the MAC West Division title. They were 2-10 in 2009 and 4-8 last year.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Don't let down. The Bulls obviously had an emotional high with the win at Notre Dame, but they have to get back to business now. USF's run defense looks to face a test from a Ball State attack that rushed for 210 yards against Indiana.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
FS Jerrell Young -- The senior garnered Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors after making key plays in the win at Notre Dame. His strip of Irish RB Jonas Green created the fumble that teammate Kayvon Webster returned for the first USF touchdown.
RB Darrell Scott -- The transfer from Colorado rushed for only 33 yards on 12 carries, but they all seemed to be in tough yardage situations. He adds power in the running game to complement RB Demetris Murray's speed.
WR Sterling Griffin -- In his first game after sitting out the 2010 season with an ankle injury, Griffin burned the Irish with eight catches for 75 yards. He and senior A.J. Love provide key elements missing from last year's offense.
--USF came out of the Notre Dame game with no injuries.
--Senior WR A.J. Love, in his first game back after sitting out 2010 with a knee injury, was in the starting lineup at Notre Dame and caught two passes for 26 yards.