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South Florida Quarterback Is The Real Deal

By Jay Coulter

The South Florida game has begun to take on a life of its own during the past few days. We’ve known all year the Bulls would be a test. They are a solid football team. However, they are not Southern Cal. The talk has ratcheted to such a point that I’m starting to feel like Pat Dye on game day... Can we even stay on the field with them?

The outcome may be different, but this game reminds me so much of the 1996 Fresno State game. Do you remember that one? The national media was saying that Auburn would face a tough test and many predicted a Fresno State win – notably our friend Lee Corso of ESPN fame. Of course, Auburn came out swinging and won the game 62-0.

I’m not saying that’s going to happen Saturday night, but South Florida wasn’t exactly a giant killer last week in its 28-13 win over Elon (wherever that is).

One thing we do know is the Bulls have a quarterback and he’s a very good one. Sophomore Matt Grothe may be the best out-of-pocket quarterback in the country. I’m not kidding. The guy really is incredible.

Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp knows his group is in for a fight. All 11 will be tested. Grothe threw for 2,576 yards last season with 15 touchdowns. But here’s a weakness: He also threw 14 interceptions. The Tiger secondary hasn’t been known for recording a lot of interceptions in recent years, but they should have ample opportunity to make some big plays Saturday.

Grothe passed for 238 yards and two touchdowns last week. He’s been put on every preseason watch list imaginable, including The Maxwell Award, Manning Award and the 2007 Heisman Trophy watch list. Last year he was named Big East Rookie of the Year and was second in the nation among freshmen in total offense.

Heck, he even has his own web site that is run by a fan –

South Florida sees this game as an opportunity to establish itself on the national stage. Bull’s coach Jim Leavitt insinuated this week that he didn’t show a whole lot last week against Elon. I believe him. I also believe Auburn didn’t show a whole lot against Kansas State, probably not by design.

There’s no question that Grothe will be a test. But when you really break it down, there’s not a whole lot around him that leads you to believe that South Florida can win. Maybe I’m missing something – my wife says it happens regularly, but I just don’t see Auburn losing Saturday night.

Before I go, I want to share with you a video of Matt Grothe from last year’s game with Pittsburgh. This will give you an idea of what kind of athlete South Florida has at quarterback. It should be fun. Enjoy the game.