I am really not going to make it to the end of the season watching the CPU simulate all these games. There are things happening on half the plays that I know USF would never do in a real game, and that I would never do if I was actually playing the game myself. B.J. Daniels waiting forever in the pocket when there's room to run, and then getting sacked or throwing the ball away. Backs running TOWARDS TACKLERS when there's a clear running lane to the end zone. Defensive backs getting mixed up and completely forgetting to cover open receivers. Sterling Griffin dropping two long passes in a row. Eric Schwartz missing an extra point and a chip-shot field goal (and it wasn't even from the left hashmark, as Brent Musberger would warn you about).
The CPU had the Bulls play so badly that they could have easily blown this game. And yet...
FINAL SCORE: USF 43, WESTERN KENTUCKY 24
The reason they didn't is because the Hilltoppers made a slew of their own stupid mistakes. USF took the lead for the first time early in the second quarter when Kawaun Jakes ran left and then tried a long option pitch to Bobby Rainey. There was no way the ball was going to get there - it deflected off George Baker, and David Bedford caught it in midair and ran it back for a touchdown to give the Bulls a 17-10 lead.
The Hilltoppers came right back and put another long drive together, getting all the way inside the USF 10. But on 3rd and goal, Jakes floated a quick out to Quinterrance Cooper, and Quenton Washington jumped in front to intercept it and return the ball 99 yards for a touchdown. The defense also basically scored a third touchdown when Sam Barrington recovered a fumble and ran it back inside the WKU 5-yard line.
The Bulls never completely put the game away because of their own ineptitude, especially on pass defense. Jakes is not a strong passer, but in this game he went 26-for-41 for 379 yards, including a touchdown to an unknown receiver (again, Tiburon, you did a horrible job with the rosters) that was the result of blown coverage by Mistral Raymond. Time and time again they converted long third-down situations because the CPU-controlled defense either blitzed DBs or gave up too much cushion, or just plain got confused. They've now given up 756 yards passing in their last two games, and I have a feeling this will bite them later in the virtual season.
Overall the Hilltoppers outgained the Bulls 466-360, had more first downs, and went 8-for-15 on third down. Meanwhile, USF runners didn't run through holes, receivers dropped passes, cornerbacks left receivers alone to run routes past the first-down marker, and strange plays were called on both sides of the ball. Possibly the only reason WKU lost the game was because of their four turnovers to USF's one. Again, this won't happen in real life, and I'm pretty sure I would have mulched the Hilltoppers if I was piloting the Bulls in this simulation.
A thoroughly unsatisfying win to watch, but the virtual Bulls move to 2-1 and look forward to an in-state matchup with Florida Atlantic next Saturday.