As USF football builds, the crowds, noise, and home-field advantage will follow

Central Florida v South Florida
Central Florida v South Florida / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Designers of the EA Sports college football video game that will be available soon tried to make it as realistic as possible. They built in all kinds of factors, including home-stadium advantage.

They ranked what they considered the 25 toughest places for a visiting team to play. Interestingly, Bryant-Denny Stadium, where USF football plays Alabama in the second game of the season, is ranked No. 2 on the list.

Kyle Field, home of Texas A&M, was first.

USF, alas, did not make the cut on this list.

I’ve been to USF games at Raymond James Stadium when the place was filled and pretty loud. I remember a 2008 early-season game against Kansas when the joint was rocking. Both teams were ranked in the Top 20, and USF pulled out a 37-34 win.

A year earlier, more than 67,000 people watched No. 18 USF knock off No. 5 West Virginia 21-13. That night, earplugs were recommended.

There haven’t been many of those moments in the last few years, but that could be about to change. If the Bulls stay on an upward tendency under Alex Golesh, the crowds will be there and the atmosphere will follow.

USF averaged 37,994 fans per home last year, a 28 percent increase over the previous year, its best since 2018.

Interestingly, that’s higher than the 35,000-seat limit USF has for its on-campus stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2027. Imagine that -- more demand than supply for USF tickets. And that, sports fans, is when I believe USF will finally have a loud and sustainable home-field advantage similar to what UCF enjoys in the Bounce House.

I’ve seen enough college football to know what that can mean. LSU’s Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night can be deafening, especially after the fans have fueled up on multiple bottles of their favorite brew.

FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium (No. 9 on the list) and Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (No. 10) can play havoc with visiting teams.

The Bulls can have that, too – not as big, maybe not as loud, but definitely an advantage.