The University of South Florida Bulls should avoid cold weather in 2012 – and perhaps have the opportunity for a strong finishing kick – with three of their final five college football games scheduled for Raymond James Stadium.
But there's a potential snag in the early season that could complicate things for USF, coming off a disappointing 5-7 season in 2011 that saw the Bulls miss a bowl game for the first time in seven years.
USF is tentatively scheduled to open its Big East Conference schedule on Saturday, Sept. 15 at home against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights – the former team of new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano – but there's a possibility that could be switched to a Thursday night game for ESPN.
And if that becomes the case, USF will have an especially short week of preparation.
The Bulls scheduled a non-conference game on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Nevada, thinking the following Saturday would be an open date because the Big East generally has its conference games backloaded on the schedule.
If Rutgers-USF is shifted to a Thursday, the Bulls would return from the program's third trip west of the Rocky Mountains with little time to prepare for Rutgers.
Rutgers faces Howard at home on Sept. 8.
Elsewhere, USF's six-game home schedule is highlighted by a Sept. 29 date with the Florida State Seminoles. USF defeated FSU in 2009 at Tallahassee. The only non-Saturday game currently on USF's schedule is a Friday, Nov. 23 date at Cincinnati.
The Bulls will be the first Big East opponent for Temple, which is rejoining the league and will host the Bulls on Oct. 6.
USF will have an open date on Oct. 13 before its trip to Louisville (Oct. 20) and another open date on Nov. 10 before traveling to Miami (Nov. 17).
The Bulls will finish their regular season at home on Dec. 1 – one day before bowl bids become official – against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
USF leaves the state of Florida just once after Oct. 20, when it travels to Cincinnati on Nov. 23.
USF Football 2012 Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 1 – Chattanooga
Saturday, Sept. 8 – at Nevada
Saturday, Sept. 15 – Rutgers (date subject to change)*
Saturday, Sept. 22 – at Ball State
Saturday, Sept. 29 – Florida State (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
Saturday, Oct. 6 – at Temple*
Saturday, Oct. 20 – at Louisville*
Saturday, Oct. 27 – Syracuse*
Saturday, Nov. 3 – Connecticut*
Saturday, Nov. 17 – at Miami
Friday, Nov. 23 – at Cincinnati (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)*
Saturday, Dec. 1 – Pittsburgh (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)*
(* Big East Conference game)