USF football has a path to the playoffs if a bunch of things go right

Oct 21, 2023; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA;  South Florida Bulls quarterback Byrum Brown (17) throws a pass against the UConn Huskies in the second half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2023; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Byrum Brown (17) throws a pass against the UConn Huskies in the second half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

With less than two months to go before college football season begins, it’s a time for fans everywhere to dream big. That’s especially true for USF supporters, who are done hiding under the covers about the fortunes of their Bulls.

If you don’t think a 7-6 record last year and a 45-0 smashing of Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl is a big deal, you haven’t been around USF for the last several years. Indeed, Bulls fans can legitimately expect their team to continue improving on last year’s foundation.

That brings us to a topic that we couldn’t have imagined discussing when talking about USF football – the Bulls’ chances of earning a spot in the expanded college football playoffs.

While they remain stuck in Group of 5 limbo for now, the decision to expand the field to 12 teams gives USF as much chance to join that field as anyone in G5 land. That’s because the lords of college football decided to guarantee one of those spots for non-Power 4 teams. Awfully sporting of them, wasn’t it?

What does USF have to accomplish to gain an invite?

According to preseason projections from, it would take at least ten wins. So, let’s use that as a target and take a guess where those wins would come from.

The schedule

Bethune-Cookman University. That should be an easy W for USF and a chance to get a lot of experience for backup players.  Record: 1-0.

At Alabama. This may be July and a time to dream big, but here at Green, Gold and Bold, we sometimes find it necessary to stick a pin in the balloon. This is one of those times. Record: 1-1.

At Southern Mississippi. Don’t sleep on the Golden Eagles. Hattiesburg is not a fun place to play, and Southern Miss picked up former FSU quarterback Tate Rodemaker in the off-season. He led the Seminoles to a 24-15 win over Florida last year, so we know he can play. Still, this is a game USF simply must have. Record: 2-1.

Miami. This is a major opportunity for USF. The Hurricanes enter this season with the usual hype about a return to glory. The ‘Canes scored big in the transfer portal, including highly regarded former Oregon State running back Damien Martinez. But in this high-profile game, the USF defense shows it is much improved, and the Bulls pull off the upset. Record: 3-1.

At Tulane. The Green Wave has a new coach after program builder Willie Fritz left for Houston. Their No. 1 job is replacing quarterback and four-year starter Michael Pratt. However, Tulane retains running back Makhi Hughes, the conference rookie of the year. It’s USF’s first conference game and falls into the must-win category. Wanna be in the playoffs? Then you have to win games like this. Record: 4-1.

Memphis. Last year, the Tigers prevailed in a 59-50 shootout, and they enter this season as the favorite to win the conference championship. This is a Friday night game at Raymond James Stadium, and the atmosphere will be electric. The Bulls are coming off an open date and have two weeks to prepare. Alas, they drop a heartbreaker. Record: 4-2.

UAB. This is USF's homecoming week, and the school will break ground on its new on-campus football stadium. That, coupled with the need for revenge after the 56-35 haymaker the Blazers laid on them in 2023, puts things back in order. No more slip-ups. Record: 5-2.

At Florida Atlantic. Speaking of revenge, FAU not only humiliated USF 56-14 last year on homecoming, the Owls smirked and sneered their merry way throughout the game. They were flagged twice for targeting USF quarterback Byrum Brown, and after scoring their 56th point, the Owls tried an onsides kick. Naughty, naughty. Revenge is a dish best served cold. It’ll be a cold night in Boca Raton. Record: 6-2.

Navy. This is always a dangerous game. The Midshipmen will run a modified Wing-T offense that can be tough to prepare for, but USF should score plenty of points in this game. The Bulls roll on. Record: 7-2.

At Charlotte. The 49ers are in the midst of a massive rebuild. This game will remind them how far they have to go. Record: 8-2.

Tulsa. Tulsa won only four games last season, but the Hurricane was generally a tough out late in the season. They used the portal to upgrade a leaky defense, but this is USF’s final home game, and the Bulls won’t let it get away. Record: 9-2.

At Rice. The Owls will have an interesting name at quarterback: E.J. Warner, son of NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Rice can also be stingy against the pass, but with USF needing a win to secure a spot in the AAC Championship game against Memphis, the Bulls get their 10th win and have a happy plane ride home. Record: 10-2.

OK, there are the ten wins. KFord Ratings said that USF needed to have a shot at the playoffs.

But who are we kidding? That only gets them to the ACC Championship game, probably on the road against Memphis. Without a win there, the playoffs would be out of reach. Win there, though, and USF has a legitimate argument to be included in the 12-team field.

That’s provided the season went as we predicted here.

I mean, that’s what will happen. Right?