In Part 1 of our annual awards, we picked the best teams and athletes from the 2016-17 USF sports season, along with our most surprising and disappointing teams. Today we move on to individual games.
There’s going to be a Part 3 tomorrow because this was already getting long. There are three more categories - Biggest Controversy, Funniest Story, and back for the first time in years due to finally having enough candidates, Best Coaching Job.
Collin: I missed traveling to the Memphis football game to be part of a cool all-weekend team project in Tampa. I spent the entire second half abandoning my team and screaming at my laptop. The Quinton Flowers Game vs. Memphis > The J.R. Reed Game vs. Memphis. That was as good an individual performance by any USF team athlete in any game ever.
Carl: This is really a more personal vote, but watching my school win the first bowl game since I became a student was special. Q threw the game-winning touchdown right in front of my face, and I nearly knocked out my teeth falling off a ledge when Mike Love laid that final hit. No, seriously, I almost lost my front four teeth, and I don't regret a thing. It was pure magic and quite possibly my favorite memory of my time at USF.
Connor: Birmingham Bowl. USF blew a big lead in the fourth quarter to South Carolina only to win in dramatic fashion in overtime. The Quinton Flowers touchdown pass on the first possession of OT to tight end Elkanah Dillon and then the sack by the Bulls defense to seal it. It sent the many Bulls fans (many bundled up), including myself, into hysteria at Legion Field. It was actually voted a top 10 game of the bowl season by ESPN, and deservedly so.
Gary: The Birmingham Bowl was entertaining as hell. USF was brilliant and terrible in equal amounts, and looked like they were going to give it all away, but came through in overtime with an amazing play by Quinton Flowers.
Josh Appel: Baseball vs. FSU in the second week of the season, when USF rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to win in Tallahassee for the first time since 1989.
Nathan: The Birmingham Bowl victory over Fat Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks. I was seriously hung over for the first three quarters of the game (ed. note: good hustle by our readers plying Nate with drinks) but I remember sitting there as Flowers' pass floated over the Gamecock defender right into TE Elkanah Dillon's hands. One of the best trips I've ever been on.
Nick: I was tempted to say the Birmingham Bowl or one of the baseball team's upsets over FSU/UF. I'm going to say USF-Memphis football from November. That offensive armageddon may have been one of the most fun USF games I've ever watched. It was back and forth, there were plenty of explosive plays, plenty of horrendous defense all-around (which by that point, we had long accepted that Raymond Woodie's defense was trash). I was thoroughly entertained throughout. And we won! Sidenote: I'm terrified of the prospect of playing Memphis in the AAC Championship game this year should it come down to that.
Jamie: One of the only nice things about living in Texas as long as I have is that I’ve been here for the entire era of wild-ass, free-scoring Big XII football games, with scores like 70-53, 61-58, 73-42, and 66-59. I secretly hoped that one day I would have a team like that to root for. We had that in the second half of last season, and it was even more fun than I could have ever imagined. The Memphis game was the craziest, most frenetic USF game ever, topped off by a legendary Quinton Flowers performance and an improbable goal-line stand to seal the win. I will remember it for a long, long time.
Collin: That women's tennis team making that conference championship from OUTTA NOWHERE.
Carl: COMIN' IN HOT! After losing 10 of their first 11 games, USF hockey caught fire during the SCHC tournament, including a massive 3-0 upset of the #1 seed FGCU Eagles in the semifinals. That win propelled them into the ACHA Regional Playoffs, where they continued the upset train by knocking off South Carolina and Liberty University. Those two wins earned them a trip to the ACHA DIII National Tournament, but it started by upsetting the best team in the conference. Possibly even more important, it put USF hockey on the map, and with the team now playing just 20 minutes up the road in the Wesley Chapel, you no longer have an excuse not to go watch them in the brand freakin' new Florida Hospital Center Ice facility.
Connor: I'm stealing this one from Carl and giving some love to the USF Club Hockey team who had an improbable run to the ACHA Nationals in Columbus, OH. The Bulls went 4-1 in the playoffs/regionals with wins over FGCU and South Carolina to advance to nationals. The team was 12-18 in the regular season so a run like that was certainly not expected.
Gary: Baseball winning at Florida and Florida State in the same year is always a big deal. Also in the other direction, losing in women's basketball to C. for the first time since they had that Great Gazoo mascot.
Nathan: Baseball beating UF and FSU on the road in the same year for the first time ever. This team had an amazing season, but the last two weeks is all anyone will remember, and that's really unfortunate.
Nick: USF baseball over Florida.
Jamie: How about USF sailing winning the Kennedy Cup Big Boat National Championship over a bunch of military academies and the Merchant Marines? We have a good sailing program, but winning that particular race was a stunner.
Collin: When all the stars align, and you've got a campus and a community starting to believe in your program again... you can't give up 478 yards rushing to a team you know is going to pound the ball. USF's defense was totally unprepared against Florida State, and they failed an offense that played well enough to win. A huge opportunity squandered by terrible coaching on that side of the ball.
Honorable mention to any men's basketball conference game except the lone win over ECU, but losing to a rather crap UConn by 46 was incredibly quittacular. I wonder if the NCAA at least alerted the gambling enforcement agents for point shaving after that one.
Carl: Look, men’s basketball was bad to the point of physical pain. I'm not going to pick a specific game, but everyone please give Sandy all the credit for toughing it out all damn year watching that terrible, terrible team to bring you coverage of men's basketball.
Connor: I was all set to choose the women's basketball NCAA Tournament game against Missouri... but then last Saturday happened. Now I must to give it to baseball's loss to Florida in the Gainesville Regional. A comedy of brutal infield errors in the 12th inning cost the Bulls a glorious chance to advance, and eventually cost them their 42-win season. A botched pick-off attempt was really the difference in the game the Bulls went on to lose 5-1. USF followed that one up with a less than stellar performance twelve hours later against Bethune-Cookman, eliminating the Bulls from the NCAA Tournament.
Gary: Almost any MBB game qualifies, but I'm going with Northern Illinois. A low-scoring, dull game between two bad teams right after USF lost its best player. USF held NIU to 37% shooting, killed them in rebounding, and were still never in it.
Nathan: Football at Temple. I was stuck at a high school football game in the rain and had to watch on my phone as Temple's fullback made every linebacker that tried to fill a gap a pancake.
Nick: USF-FSU. Not for the defense getting exposed. Not for getting Dalvin Cook'd yet again. It was because Plies pumped faked all of us out of an epic tailgate. WHAT THE HELL MAN? WE TRUSTED YOU! Honorable mention goes to whatever the hell that was late in Saturday's regional.
Jamie: There were quite a few terrible USF losses this year. That goes with the territory when you have a lot of good teams. I think the worst, though, was women’s basketball losing at home to C. Yes, the Bulls were impossibly injured and they had a terrible shooting night, but they should never, ever, ever, EVER lose to C. In the 2015-16 season, they beat C. by 45 and 39 points. Even when USF was a burning train wreck of a program getting sued by its own players, they could at least find a way to beat C. USF’s last loss to C. in women’s basketball was on December 12, 1980. The NCAA didn’t even govern women’s basketball then! And they had NEVER lost to the Knights at home. On top of all that, it was also the decisive six-point swing in the all-sports War on I-4 trophy. A complete debacle.