Willie Taggart did his part.
What happened to Jimbo we can blame on the Cards.
Big 12 befuddle me not.
Taggart brings his perfect USF football team into the house that Jameis is building. The Bulls are are 3-0 and the seventh-highest scoring team in the country averaging 49.7 points per game.
Willie and his players won’t reveal their only disappointment: They wanted Jimbo’s Florida State Seminoles to be unbeaten and not coming to town off the 63-20 spanking Louisville handed them.
Those Cardinals lead the nation, averaging 65 points per game —which used to be considered a lot for a basketball team and just 10 points short of what Louisville’s basketball team averaged last season.
This debacle looked so bad that a USF victory over the Noles might not be enough to vault the Bulls into the top 20 and earn them spot at the Big 12 Pow Wow.
Now a loss will hurt more than if FSU came into RJS unbeaten with a No. 2 ranking.
But Taggart always says he wants to see how his kids react to adversity like they did in falling behind Syracuse 17-0 before going on to a 45-20 victory last week.
This is a game USF has waited all summer to play in what was the worst kept secret on the Fowler Avenue campus.
Now, FSU can’t count down the hours quick enough to kickoff.
Taggart might even allow himself to mention the Big 12.
This was Big 12 Week until Louisville re-arranged the Seminoles’ headgear along with their goals.
Still, it would be good to keep Jameis Winston out of the Noles’ locker room. Those halftime speeches he gives are right up there with Lombardi and Rockne.
Maybe Taggart could remind Winston that they both reside in Tampa and share the same stadium. But, oh, that Tallahassee loyalty is hard to break, isn’t it?
Taggart was hoping to catch FSU asleep, softened with overconfidence just like Coach T and Jim Harbaugh caught USC when they were at Stanford and administered the biggest upset in the history of major college football.
Darn those Cards!
FSU hasn’t lost two straight games since 2011. Heck, they never lost twice to the Bulls.
But there is something about this game you have to like from a USF perspective. These Bulls can put up points. And Quinton Flowers is hungry to show he is in the same category as quarterbacks Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Greg Ward Jr. of Houston.
It’s a long season and USF has never won a conference title in football, so it’s best to put this game in its proper place, Big 12 or not.
The Bulls are built with Manatee County roots — Taggart, the head coach; Ray Woodie, the defensive coordinator; and Joe Kinnan, the clandestine offensive guru who always seems to be connected to success on the football field.
Kinnan predicted USF would be playing high stakes games when Taggart was fighting off the wolves who were trying to skin him during his first two years at USF, ignoring the mess he inherited.
Woodie was special teams coordinator last year when Dalvin Cook ran for 266 yards in FSU’s 30-17 victory over the Bulls in Tallahassee.
Now it’s his personal job to stop Cook just like Louisville did. Trying to do that two straight weeks is difficult.
You can bet Jimbo will be in his players’ ear. The sales pitch — there is still a chance, long shot that it is, that FSU can make the four-team playoff.
But this is about pride for FSU. This is about gaining respect for USF under the Taggart regime.
The Bulls won the first of three meetings against the Noles, 17-7, in Tallahassee in 2009 and lost the last two.
But Taggart isn’t just selling hot air. He’s got a program on the rise with a lot of hometown folks.
And then there is that Big 12 thing. You can talk about it this week. It’s OK. It might even come in handy.
Who: No. 13 Florida State at South Florida
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
TV/radio: ABC/820 AM/1010 AM
Other state games
Florida at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Ball State at FAU, 6 p.m.
UCF at FIU, 7 p.m.