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Dr. Saturday

Doc 5: Top five late-season collapses -- No. 3 South Florida

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
2007 South Florida

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Linebacke Ben Moffitt #59 of the University of South Florida Bulls enters the field for pre-game introductions as coach Jim Leavitt watches before play against the Louisville Cardinals on November 17, 2007. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

With the calendar turning over to May this week, we’re only four months away from the start of the 2014 college football season.

Since May Day is not really celebrated much these days, we turned our focus for this week’s Doc Five toward “mayday,” you know, the distress signal used on boats in emergency situations.

How does that apply to college football?

It doesn’t exactly, but it got us thinking about teams over the past 15 seasons who have got off to fast starts but collapsed down the stretch and needed to signal in a mayday.


No. 3 – 2007 South Florida

It was the season that could have put South Florida football on the map.

Despite being just the 11th season in program history and third in the Big East, Jim Leavitt’s 2007 Bulls quickly found themselves in uncharted waters.

A week two upset at Auburn gave USF its first ever top 25 ranking, which the Bulls backed up by blowing out North Carolina at home in the following week to set up a primetime showdown with fifth-ranked West Virginia.

At a sold out Raymond James Stadium, fans rushed the field as the Bulls pulled off one of the top wins in program history to that point, 21-13. After two more wins over in-state Florida Atlantic and Central Florida, the Bulls bolted all the way up to No. 2 in the AP rankings and in the BCS polls.

The 6-0 Bulls were riding high and had already reached unprecedented heights for the program, but it all came crashing down just five days after the UCF win on a Thursday night in Piscataway, NJ.

A diminutive Rutgers running back named Ray Rice torched the Bulls defense for 181 yards on 39 carries as the Scarlet Knights put a dent in the Bulls dream season, 30-27. The Bulls fell to No. 11 in the rankings after the loss, but had a chance to bounce back on the road against a tough UConn squad, but the Bulls dropped another tight one, 22-15.

The free fall continued when the Bulls turned the ball over a whopping eight times and allowed Cincinnati to score 31 points in the first quarter the following week on homecoming. The 38-33 loss was the third straight against unranked opponents for USF, who dropped from a national title contender to unranked in a total of just 16 days.

To the Bulls’ credit, they bounced back with three straight wins over Big East bottom feeders Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh, but the damage had already been done.

The season came to a fitting end with a blowout 56-21 Sun Bowl loss to Oregon.

A 9-4 record certainly isn’t bad for such a young program, but it could have been so much more.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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