6-6 overall, 6-5 conference, 4th Big East
Against the spread
6-5 (2-2 home, 4-3 away, 5-5 grass)
2-9 (0-4 home, 2-5 away, 2-8 grass)
+.42 per game
2005 Season Summary
Head coach Jim Leavitt had literally built the South Florida football program from the ground up, starting the program eight seasons prior with a trailer as an office. The program had immediate success under Leavitt that included successful campaigns in Conference USA in which the Bulls went 9-2 straight up and 7-2 against the spread in 2002 followed by 7-4 straight up and 4-5 against the spread in 2003. In 2004, however, it started to appear as if the USF football program was not yet ready for prime time and a move to the Big East as they fell to 4-7 straight up and 3-7 against the spread, looking very inept during the process.
Big leap to Big East
As Leavitt and his Bulls prepared for 2005 and the big leap to the Big East Conference, (and the BCS bowl berth that goes to the league champ), there were a lot of questions and skepticism but also the potential for excellent value on the college football betting boards as USF was to start off the season well under the radar screen of the general betting public.
Return to form
2004 broke a string of three consecutive seasons in which USF was a solid under play, as they went under in 17 of the previous 24 lined games entering 2004, a season in which they went over 7 out of 9 times.
South Florida began 2005 as a whopping 21.5-point dog at Penn State and hung in there for a 13-23 loss/cover/under. This was followed by the home opener against 1-AA Florida A&M, which South Florida took with ease by a score of 37-3.
George O'Leary's Central Florida Knights visited next and the Bulls took the game and cash 31-14 as 7.5-point chalks with the game sneaking under as the Bulls saw a return to form against the over/unders.
Up next was a home game against the HUGE Big East chalk, Louisville , a program expected to enjoy a cake walk to the league's BCS bowl game. South Florida was a huge 20.5-point dog and stunned the nation with a dominating 45-14 win and cover while, again, sneaking under the number. The upset blowout over Louisville served as USF's breakout game as they went under for the third straight lined game.
South Florida was expected to have nothing left for their next game at Miami , where they were installed as 21-point dogs. The Bulls were flat but got the cash in a 7-27 loss that went under. They were still hungover for their next game at Pitt, a 17-31 loss as 1-point dogs. The oddsmakers adjusted the total, as this game was USF's first over of the season. South Florida now stood at 3-3 straight up and 4-1 against the spread with two more conference road games on tap.
Emerged as a contender
South Florida was a 2.5-point dog at upstart Rutgers and came away with a 45-31 win that soared over the total. This was followed by an impressive 27-0 win/cover/under at Syracuse as 6.5-point chalks as USF emerged as a contender for the Big East title now standing at 5-3 straight up and 6-1 against the spread with 5 unders in 7 games.
No longer a secret bargain
South Florida came home to host Cincinnati as a 22-point chalk and won the game 31-16 but failed to get the cash as they were becoming more expensive on the betting boards. Next was a shocking 10-15 loss at Connecticut where they were installed as 6.5-point chalks. This was confirmed in the season finale at home against eventual Big East champ West Virginia , who beat USF 28-13 as a 7-point chalk. USF dropped their final three games against the spread after the word got out, as they were no longer a secret bargain on the betting boards. All three of those games did go under, however. In their bowl game against North Carolina State , the Bulls lost 0-14 as 3.5-point dogs. Although they ran out of gas at the end the 2005 USF season was a success with their first bowl trip and well-earned respect.