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Bulls may have a new kicker for Memphis

Though he hasn't been ruled out for Saturday night's game at Memphis, Bulls PK Emilio Nadelman's full recovery from a quad injury might require more than a bye week.

Nadelman, injured late in the Bulls' 52-45 victory against Navy two Fridays ago, exited Tuesday morning's practice using a crutch. But Coach Willie Taggart said the week's still early.

"You know around here, we heal differently," he said.

If Nadelman -- perfect on seven field-goal attempts this season -- remains sidelined, Jacksonville University transfer Brandon Behr takes over. A 23-year-old junior, Behr had a 48-yard field-goal try blocked late in the fourth quarter against Navy, leading to a Midshipmen TD.

Last season at JU, he was perfect on 41 PATs and hit 14 of 23 field goals including a long of 48 yards. In 2014, he was a second-team All-Pioneer Football League pick, connecting on 13 of 18 field goals including a 50-yarder against Drake.

As a senior at Fleming Island High, he missed only two of 11 field goals.

"We always say if a guy goes down, the next guy's got to be ready to go," Taggart said. "Same thing with Brandon. He's got to be ready to go and we know he'll get it done for us." …

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Da Silva shines in Bulls' exhibition triumph

Following a turbulent seven-month stretch that included the dismissal of two starters and resignation of a top assistant amid an NCAA probe, USF finally got a chance Monday to shift its focus to the court.

And for one night at least, Tulio Da Silva helped the Bulls make the most of it.

In his collegiate debut, the 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman finished with a game-high 26 points and 16 rebounds as USF pulled away in the closing minutes to defeat Division II Nova Southeastern 72-64 in an exhibition at the Sun Dome.

"He's only starting to scratch the surface of what he's going to be capable of," USF coach Orlando Antigua said of Da Silva, once a four-star recruit who sat out all of last season for academics.

"We've got some things that he's gotta tighten up ... but really happy and excited that he's part of our university and our program."

Da Silva shined with his athleticism, bringing the announced crowd of 2,273 to its feet several times with highlight-reel dunks, including an alley-oop jam from newcomer Michael Bibby in the second half.

The Bulls shot 46 percent and never trailed after taking the lead four minutes in, building a 19-point first-half advantage shortly before halftime.

Redshirt sophomore Troy Holston Jr., making his return after missing last season with a torn ACL, finished with 15 points. Bibby, a true freshman, added 12.

Penn State transfer Geno Thorpe was held out of the game, Antigua said, as a "coach's decision." He is expected to be available Friday when USF hosts Florida A&M at 7 to open the regular season.

"They gutted it out and that was good to see," Antigua said. "There's a lot we're going to be able to utilize here these next couple days to teach -- to get better."

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Bulls' title hopes hinge on Temple collapse

USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox (89) and the Bulls must win out and hope for a Temple loss for a realistic shot at winning the American Athletic Conference's East Division.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox (89) and the Bulls must win out and hope for a Temple loss for a realistic shot at winning the American Athletic Conference's East Division.

Stash all your scenarios and mathematical extrapolations. For USF and -- to a lesser extent -- UCF fans, hope is probably more useful than hypotheses.

This year, the only sequence that still can propel the Bulls into the American Athletic Conference title game involves a Temple meltdown.

Entering the regular season's final three weeks, Temple (7-3, 5-1 AAC) leads the East Division by a half-game over USF (7-2, 4-1) and a game and a half over UCF (5-4, 3-2). In reality, though, the margin is wider because the Owls have defeated the Bulls and Knights, and holds the division tie-breaker advantage.

The Owls still play at Tulane (Nov. 19) and at home against East Carolina (Nov. 26). If they win both (Tulane and ECU have a combined one conference win), they win the East. If they lose once and the Bulls win out (against Memphis, SMU and UCF), USF wins the East and hosts the AAC championship game Dec. 3.

No other scenario seems plausible. But for the sake of surreality, we'll explore a couple.

Suppose Temple, UCF and USF all finish with two losses: The Owls still advance to the title game (site TBD) because they defeated the other two. And if Temple loses its last two? The Knights-Bulls game at Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 26 could be for the division title, presuming the winner has two or fewer conference losses. …

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Full disclosure: My latest AP ballot

Seems my ballot integrity was challenged as mightily as 'Bama this weekend. While the Tide responded favorably, readers must decide whether I did the same with my votes.

Again, some of my personal parameters: When possible, I try to (A) keep from dropping teams for winning conference games, regardless how unattractive they may appear in doing so; (B) neither penalize nor reward teams on bye weeks; and (C) not be swayed by style points (see A).

This week, I flip-flopped Louisville and Ohio State (previously fifth and sixth, respectively) not to penalize the Cardinals, but to reward the Buckeyes for such an overwhelming triumph against a ranked team (Nebraska).

Elsewhere, idle Utah (15th) didn't budge. Nor did LSU. The Tigers remain at No. 17; just can't see penalizing them for holding the nation's No. 1 team -- and 15th-ranked scoring offense -- to 10 points.

This week's big leapers? Penn State catapults 10 spots to No. 9 (Anyone wanna play the Nittany Lions right now?), while Colorado, North Carolina and Washington State each jump five spots in the wake of double-digit conference victories.

On the flop side, Nebraska tumbles 11 spots (to No. 22), Florida falls 12 spots (to No. 25) and previously No. 12 Baylor drops out altogether. In an effort to preempt the accusations of SEC bias, the Gators lost on the road to a decent SEC team (Arkansas) while Baylor fell by 40 at home to a .500 Big 12 team (TCU). …

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Taggart: Bulls fought through "a lot of pain" against Navy

USF quarterback Quinton Flowers is on the cusp of becoming the first Bulls player with 2,000 passing and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF quarterback Quinton Flowers is on the cusp of becoming the first Bulls player with 2,000 passing and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.

Truth be told, the national TV audience that saw the Bulls sprint past Navy last week really observed a banged-up squad effectively concealing its collective limp, Coach Willie Taggart suggested.

"We were so beat up going into that game it was just like, 'Man, if we can get through this game, things will be a little better for us,'" Taggart said after the second of the Bulls' three bye-week workouts Wednesday.

"It was good to finally have a bye week. It was tough on our guys. They were fighting through a lot of pain, and that's kind of where we're at in the season. It happens. Probably wanted one a little earlier, but it came probably at the best time for us."

Among those in greatest need of a breather are QB Quinton Flowers (hamstring), S Devin Abraham (thumb), CB Ronnie Hoggins (calf) and PK Emilio Nadelman (quad). Nadelman, who exited in the fourth quarter of the Bulls' 52-45 win against the Midshipmen, was slated to see a doctor Wednesday, Taggart said.

RECORD WATCH: Flowers enters the final three games of the regular season on the brink of more USF immortality.

He's 59 passing yards and 79 rushing yards shy of becoming the first 2,000/1,000 player in program history. With 2,862 total yards at this point, he has an excellent shot at breaking Matt Grothe's single-season record (3,542).

And his 17 passing TDs are five shy of his own USF season record established in 2015.

"That's all we talk about: You're either getting better or you're getting worse. No one stays the same," Taggart said. "That's something we wanted Quinton to do, was to get better than what he was last year, and he's on pace to be better than what he was last year."

ODDS AND ENDS: Taggart said he's rooting for Cleveland in Game Seven of the World Series because his coach at Western Kentucky, Jack Harbaugh, loves the Indians. That puts him in stark contrast to Bulls defensive line coach Eric Mathies, a Chicago native. ... Taggart said third-string QB Chris Oladokun threw a TD pass at Wednesday's practice. ... TB Marlon Mack has run for as many touchdowns (11) as USF totaled in 2013.

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Bulls atop latest AAC power rankings

USF receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11) celebrates with teammate Tyre McCants after Valdes-Scantling's first-half touchdown in Saturday's 52-45 win against Navy.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11) celebrates with teammate Tyre McCants after Valdes-Scantling's first-half touchdown in Saturday's 52-45 win against Navy.

Every team in the American Athletic Conference has at least two losses entering the month of November, which speaks to both the strength and parity of the league. And the divisional races are in full swing, with several teams on each side of the conference jockeying for position.

Here's a look at the AAC landscape entering the final month of the regular season, according to our league-wide panel of beat reporters.

1. USF (7-2, 4-1 AAC): The Bulls built a 28-point halftime lead on No. 22 Navy before holding on late for the 52-45 upset. Though USF's defense took its collective foot off the gas down the stretch, its offense sparkled. QB Quinton Flowers and tailbacks Marlon Mack and D'Ernest Johnson combined for 408 rushing yards for the Bulls, marking the first time in program history that three USF players hit the 100-yard mark in the same game. The Bulls get a needed bye week this weekend before traveling to Memphis on Nov. 12. -- Jeff Odom, Tampa Bay Times

2. Navy (5-2, 4-1): The Midshipmen were brought down to earth in a big way Friday night in Tampa. Navy's defense could not handle the across-the-board speed of the Bulls, who led 42-14 at halftime. Shoddy tackling was another issue for the Midshipmen, who gave up 629 total yards. It was the first conference defeat for Navy, which still controls its own destiny in the West. The Midshipmen travel back to Florida to face Notre Dame on Saturday at Jacksonville's EverBank Field in the 90th edition of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in college football. -- Bill Wagner, Baltimore Sun Media Group

3. Temple (6-3, 4-1): The Owls earned their first three-game win streak of the season with Saturday's 34-13 home victory against Cincinnati. Leading 17-13 at halftime, Temple held the Bearcats to 11 yards from scrimmage in the second half. The Owls rushed for 275 yards and got two rushing TDs from Ryquell Armstead, who now has 11 this season. Jahad Thomas rushed for a season-high 151 yards on 17 carries. QB Phillip Walker has now gone 10 quarters without throwing an interception. In his last four games, Jefferson High alumnus Ventell Bryant has caught 19 passes for 345 yards. Temple visits UConn on Friday. -- Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer

4. Houston (7-2, 4-2): Behind a resurgent defense, the Cougars erased a 21-point second-half deficit for a 31-24 victory against UCF, the third-largest comeback in school history. A defense that had struggled the previous three games forced four turnovers and held the Knights to a field goal and 29 yards of total offense in the final two quarters. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. was uncharacteristically sloppy with three interceptions (all in the first half) and a fumble on the opening series of the second half. After playing nine consecutive weeks the Cougars get a much-needed open date this weekend. -- Joseph Duarte, The Houston Chronicle

5. Tulsa (6-2, 3-1): In what stands as the most impressive victory in the Philip Montgomery era, the Golden Hurricane pulled away from Memphis for a 59-30 road win Saturday night, securing bowl eligibility and keeping Tulsa in the mix for the West title. Junior James Flanders filled in for primary back D'Angelo Brewer and delivered 249 yards and a school-record five rushing TDs. The Hurricane defense, meantime, sealed the win with a trio of fourth-quarter takeaways. Up next is a home game against East Carolina, which has prevailed in six consecutive meetings in the series. -- Kelly Hines, Tulsa World

6. Memphis (5-3, 2-2): It was a tough week for the Tigers, on and off the field. Starting DL Michael Edwards retired because of personal/family reasons, two players were suspended for an altercation over video games, three top recruits decommitted, and Memphis lost to Tulsa, 59-30. The Tigers committed four turnovers and 12 penalties, gave up 362 rushing yards and dropped an estimated eight passes in the game. Anthony Miller was a bright spot with 12 catches for a school-record 250 yards and two TDs. The Tigers will try snapping the first two-game losing streak of the Mike Norvell era Saturday at SMU. -- Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal

7. UCF (4-4, 2-2): While the Knights showed how much they have improved from 2015, they also showed how much they need to grow during a 31-24 road loss to Houston. After leading 24-3 early in the third quarter, UCF allowed the Cougars to score 28 unanswered points. Redshirt junior LB Shaquem Griffin was named the league’s defensive player of the week after collecting 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and his first career interception. UCF, two wins shy of bowl eligibility, will look to rebound during a three-game home stretch starting with Tulane on Saturday. -- Shannon Green, Orlando Sentinel

8. SMU (4-4, 2-2): SMU avoided a letdown after its monumental win over Houston with a 35-31 road victory against Tulane. The Mustangs dominated the first half but made some key errors that caused them to fall behind by 10 points with nine minutes to play. SMU rallied behind the arm of QB Ben Hicks (16-of-31, 302 yards). This team has shown plenty of moxie and resilience, but just how good are the Ponies? Saturday's homecoming game against Memphis, which could put SMU on the brink of bowl eligibility, should be telling. -- EJ Holland, Dallas Morning News

9.Cincinnati (4-4, 1-4): The Bearcats are coming off a 34-13 loss at Temple, where they totaled only 11 yards in the second half. QB Gunner Kiel threw for 122 yards and two TDs in the first half, but was just 1-of-6 in the second half. UC faces a stiff challenge this week against BYU (4-4), which beat the Bearcats, 38-24, last year in Provo. UC puts a 30-game Nippert Stadium non-conference winning streak on the line, with the Bearcats not having lost to a non-league opponent at their campus since 2002. -- Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer

10. East Carolina (3-5, 1-3): East Carolina earned its lone October win Saturday against Connecticut, providing itself a late-season lifeline. Now, the motivation is to win three of its final four games to swipe an unlikely bowl bid. The competition is stiff, beginning this week at Tulsa and continuing against SMU, Navy and Temple to finish the regular season. -- Nathan Summers, The Daily Reflector

11. Connecticut (3-6, 1-5): The Huskies' 41-3 loss at East Carolina had Coach Bob Diaco using descriptions such as "pathetic" and "ridiculous." QB Bryant Shirreffs said he was embarrassed for everyone involved. It was the second-worst loss -- in terms of point margin -- of the three-year Diaco era, prompting Diaco to demote offensive coordinator Frank Verducci. The Huskies, who have lost three in a row and five of six, are in a mess of a situation that they'll try to start cleaning up Friday night at home against Temple. -- Mike Anthony, The Hartford Courant

12. Tulane (3-5, 0-4): The Green Wave defense struggled to live up to the reputation it built early in the season, giving up a TD in the final minute Saturday to fall to SMU, 35-31. After starting the season 3-2, Tulane has lost its last three and plays three of its final four games on the road. If Tulane coach Willie Fritz can’t get his defense back on track soon, it may be a tough road for the Green Wave down the stretch. -- Will Guillory, The Times-Picayune

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Bulls women receive votes in both major polls

USF women's coach Jose Fernandez's team has received votes in both major preseason polls.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

USF women's coach Jose Fernandez's team has received votes in both major preseason polls.

In what can only be seen as a nod to recent history or a testament to Jose Fernandez's recruiting (or both), the Bulls women's basketball team has received votes in both major preseason polls.

USF, coming off consecutive NCAA Tournament second-round appearances, received 65 points in the inaugural USA Today Coaches Poll, and eight in the Associated Press poll. The Bulls' point total in the USA Today poll is the 26th-highest, putting the Bulls on the cusp of a formal ranking.

The Bulls lost the program's No. 2 career scorer (Courtney Williams) and all-time top rebounder (Alisia Jenkins) from last season's team, while veteran swing player Laura Ferreira remains sidelined indefinitely with a plantar fascia injury.

But Fernandez, arguably the nation's premier recruiter of international talent, signed five freshmen in the offseason including 6-foot-2 Hungary native Dorottya Nagy; considered her continent's No. 1 recruit by Blue Star Europe; Denmark national team member Enna Pehadzic, ranked 95th by ESPNW's Dan Olson in his Collegiate Girls Basketball Reports; and McDonald's All-America nominee Jazz Bond of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

"Even with the veteran team that we had last year and we went on that foreign tour (of Spain), we have more stuff put in now than we did with a veteran team," Fernandez said earlier in preseason camp. "So from a basketball IQ standpoint...we're farther ahead than we've ever been."

The Bulls open the season at home Nov. 15 against North Florida.

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