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The Night Before: Carl is Not OK

Another stream of conscious before a huge USF game.

NCAA Football: Houston at South Florida Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Well, here we are again, the night before a big game, and I’m sure I’m not the only one unable to sleep. I’m just glad I’m not a player right now, I have no idea how you sleep with this kind of pressure on you.

Welcome to another stream of conscious before a monster game. Last time we were here, FSU was in town. Hyped for months, season-defining win in the offing, all the fun stuff. So why does this feel so much less fun?

I think the difference is that this game is going to define the season, win or lose. We could freely lose to FSU and have a great season, which we did. But lose to C. tomorrow and the entire season is going to feel like a loss. A wasted opportunity. Another thing for C. to wave over our head.

This is pretty much the one thing I hate about rivalry week. If you lose this game, you likely end your season in agony. It especially rings true for mid-major schools like us, because the bowl game we go to us gonna suck unless we somehow get the coveted at-large. It was ours for the taking this year. It should have been almost a shoo-in.

Too bad college football doesn’t work like that. It’s why Mississippi State is getting crushed by Ole Miss as I write. Things never go according to plan (Alabama non-withstanding), and this season certainly didn’t. Sterlin Gilbert all but ruined the beautiful offense we fell in love with last season, and Charlie Strong’s first season with USF has been frankly disappointing. 12-0 wasn’t just a dream, it was almost expected. The defensive coach was gonna fix the defense and USF was gonna roll to the biggest season in school history.

Sure, it still can be, but the knot in my gut is certainly telling me otherwise. C. scares me, and they should scare you too this year. They weren’t supposed to be this good, but all the warning signs were there. We just didn’t want to see them. And even if we do win, Memphis scares me too. I don’t know how we’re gonna win both those games when goddamn Tulane almost came back on us.

Basically, I’m not OK right now, but that’s college football. USF will ascend to the top eventually and it’ll be all the more glorious when we finally do. Will it be tomorrow? Maybe. Again, Ole Miss is beating the clang out of Miss St. as I bang away at the keyboard, so don’t rule it out.

Tomorrow might be fun. It might not be fun. My heart says it will, but all other senses scream no, and I tend to trust my other senses. But it’s going to be emotional. That’s about the only guarantee. Because win or lose, we’re all about to get on the biggest, scariest roller coaster that USF has ever been on. Coming in REAL HOT: WVU in 2007? Not as big of a game. 69,000 fans will never make up for playing for the division. The entire season is on the line, the conference, the at-large bid. WVU had none of that. Win, it’s a high ranked upset. Lose, we were expected to anyway. None of that mattered at the end of the year anyway.

Regardless of result, tomorrow is going to be the only game we remember from this season. Tomorrow is going to define the season.

Are you ready?