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The 2016 Daily Stampede Awards (Part 2)

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In the second half of our nearly annual awards, we choose our favorite games, the biggest upset, and a couple things we’d rather forget about.

NCAA Football: Temple at South Florida Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

In Part 1 yesterday, we picked our favorite teams and athletes from the 2015-16 USF athletic season. Today it’s our favorite games, the biggest upset, and some things we’d rather forget about.

BEST GAME

Ryan: Football vs. Cincy was pure, unadulterated euphoria, and the Syracuse game was the one that began the turnaround, but let's go with Temple here. This was the moment when the USF fanbase stopped merely crossing their fingers for a bowl game and started believing that this team could do something. USF didn't just stand toe-to-toe with a one-loss Top 25 squad, they thrashed them by three touchdowns at home. There was a moment where Marlon Mack broke into the Temple secondary en route to putting the Bulls up multiple scores, and I swear he was running at least five times the speed of any Temple defender. I mean, they didn't look like they belonged on the same field. It was a beautiful, sublime moment that showed just how scary USF can be if they put it all together.

Also, we got to rush the field. I like rushing the field.

Nathan: Completely destroying UCF 44-3 on Thanksgiving was icing on a terrific season for the football team.

Nick: USF vs. Cincinnati in football. Everyone will probably say the Temple game because of USF upsetting the eventual division champs at home, the full student section, becoming bowl eligible, rushing the field, etc. But the total destruction of Cincinnati the very next week is a game I could watch and maniacally laugh all the way through, as they’re pouring on touchdown after touchdown and Tommy Tuberville is literally bent over with his hands on his knees. That game was fun.

Jamie: For me it’s a dead heat between Cincinnati and C.Florida. They were deliriously fun in their own special ways. During the Cincinnati game, we ordered take-out for dinner. When we left to go pick it up, USF was up 13-0. When we came back 30 minutes later, USF was up 41-3. It was like a video game fever dream.

C.Florida was fun because everyone in the world knew USF was going to beat the brakes off the Knights. And C.Florida played relatively well! I thought they had a pretty good game plan! That’s why they only lost by 41 points instead of 60 or 70.

WORST GAME

Ryan: Ooooh, which USF basketball game shall I pick here? How about getting obliterated by 34 at home against SMU? That sounds about right. This is more or less an annual occurrence for USF basketball now, so the fact that this is the worst thing to happen to USF this year is actually pretty good!

Nathan: FSU football.

Nick: USF vs Maryland in football. The team was still working out the kinks and figuring out their identity early on in the season, but this was a pain to watch and brought serious concerns of how this squad would look once they got to conference play. Also, considering Maryland fired Randy Edsall two weeks later and finished 3-9, it’s the one head-scratching loss you look back at in retrospect.

Jamie: I don’t feel like piling on a bad team, so I’ll choose by far the most upsetting game - the American women’s soccer championship game against Cincinnati. USF went ahead 1-0 on a terrific finish by Olivia Chance in the 60th minute, then battened down the hatches. The Bearcats kept piling in attacks against the exhausted Bulls, but they held them off until the 88th minute, when Cassie Wheldon dropped a through ball into no man’s land. Kat Elliott got caught in between coming for the ball and waiting for the shot and Jaycie Brown chipped it over her. Carlotte Fennefross desperately tried to clear the ball off the line, but instead she smashed into the frame of the goal and suffered a season-ending leg injury. That play and the ensuing loss on PKs ripped the guts out of that team.

I was there to cover the game and after watching it all from field level, I didn't have the heart to walk up to Lindsey, the SID, and ask to interview anyone. They all looked emotionally shattered. When they lost to FGCU at home in the first round of the NCAA tournament, it wasn’t surprising at all.

BIGGEST UPSET

Ryan: It's not like it was a huge on-paper upset, but beating Syracuse by three touchdowns and putting up 45 points on them was so utterly unexpected at the time that I truly believed that I was going to wake up from a dream at any given moment. I'm still kind of expecting it.

Nathan: Men's soccer over #3 Georgetown 2-0. I believe that's the highest-ranked team that any sport beat this year.

Nick: Not a single game, but softball bouncing back from a disappointing 8-9 start to win twenty-three games in a row a cruise to the American regular season title is something nobody saw coming in the early stages of the season.

Jamie: Men’s basketball rising up and winning at Houston. They went into that game 3-17. With how terrible they were playing up to that point, there was a legitimate chance they were going to lose every single conference game and finish the season 3-29. On top of that, Chris Perry had been suspended, so the Bulls were down to six scholarship players. But Jahmal MacMurray scored 30 points, while Houston was outrebounded by 16 and shot 4-for-23 from three-point range. It was an astounding win.

BIGGEST CONTROVERSY

Ryan: I just want to be in the Big 12 already.

Nathan: Non-sports related, I'm going with Sam Bradley, the now-former director of the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, having affairs with students at his former school, Texas Tech, and USF not knowing a damn thing about it... even though he was hired nine months after he was let go from Texas Tech. Like, how does that not come up on a background check?

Nick: The Lamar Robbins and Benjamin Knox gun controversy. Yeeeaaaahhh, not the smartest idea to discharge a weapon on campus, guys.

Jamie: The Willie Taggart/Richard Gonzmart kerfuffle after former football player Elkino Watson was stabbed to death outside The Orpheum the night of the USF-Florida A&M game. It wasn’t all that controversial, really. Just a coach and a business owner protecting their interests a little too zealously and publicly. Mark Harlan found the appropriate middle ground right away and nipped this problem in the bud.