Inside Slant:South Florida (4-3, 2-1) may be near the top of the Big East after last week's impressive road win at Rutgers, but coach Jim Leavitt is expecting a tough afternoon against the last-place Orange (1-7, 0-5).
"It's going to be the toughest game in the world," Leavitt said. "We know that. It's going to be tough as heck. (Our) guys have never played in a dang dome (and to) go into Syracuse, for their homecoming with Jim Brown (retiring his No. 44 jersey). We're gonna have to play better than (at Rutgers) if we're gonna have a chance to win."
South Florida has three games left: at Syracuse, at home against Cincinnati, at Connecticut, and at home against 16th-ranked West Virginia. The Bulls can win the Big East championship and gain a spot in a BCS bowl if they win out.
But running back Andre Hall, who was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week after shredding Rutgers for 168 yards, isn't allowing himself to think too far ahead.
"Now we go play 1-7 Syracuse," he said. "You've got to come play every week, then we come back home and play Cincinnati, if we've got a two-game winning streak, it's looking good for you."
Notes and Quotes:
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Bulls gave the ball to RB Andre Hall 35 times last week and the senior responded with 168 yards and three touchdowns. It was Hall's third 100-yard game of the season. Hall should have another big week against a Syracuse defense that ranks last in the Big East against the run (171.0 yards per game).
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Bulls don't have any superstars on defense, just a bunch of tough, quick players who continue to play well as a unit. South Florida ranks third in the Big East in total defense and rush defense, and fourth in pass defense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They've been calling me, 'Popcorn.' They said my hands were all buttery. They said I couldn't catch the ball. I knew I could. I just needed the chance." -- SS Johnnie Jones on the ribbing he received from his teammate before intercepting a pass last week against Rutgers.
Strategy and Personnel
THIS WEEK'S GAME: South Florida at Syracuse, Nov. 12 -- Few thought South Florida would be in second place in the Big East this late in the season. But that's exactly where the Bulls find themselves as they get set to take on last place Syracuse. South Florida's win at Rutgers last week was its first on the road this season. The Bulls went 2-3 away from home last year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Andre Hall -- The senior ranks second in the Big East in rushing with 768 yards on 156 carries. He also ranks second in all-purpose yards with 141.2 per game.
QB Pat Julmiste -- He ranks sixth in passing efficiency in the Big East with a 105.3 rating. He's had trouble with his accuracy in the past, but this year he's completing 53 percent of his attempts and has thrown just five interceptions.
WR Johnny Peyton -- The sophomore leads the Bulls with three receiving touchdowns and ranks third on the team with 14 catches for 143 yards.
DE Terrence Royal -- The senior was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week last week after he returned a fumble 11 yards for a TD and setup another score with a 22-yard interception return.
WR Amarri Jackson -- The sophomore led the Bulls last week with seven catches for 68 yar