We've seen it before and now we have another fast start for the University of South Florida football team. Four straight wins, four and oh-my, now it's time for the Big East.
The month of October will make or break this 2009 edition of the Bulls. The next 30 or so days will determine their fate, determine if they are contenders or pretenders for the Big East title and the BCS bowl berth that accompanies it.
Good new is they get somewhat of a warm up on Saturday. A warm up, perhaps. Syracuse is in the process of re-inventing itself, led by born-again quarterback Greg Paulus, the former Dukie, the former point guard for Coach K.
This game in the Carrier Dome will test South Florida, but with its depth and new-found star quarterback -- B.J. Daniels -- the Bulls should find a way to win.
Victory in the Carrier Dome is mandatory because matters only get tougher from there.
There's a Thursday night date on national television with the unbeaten and pass-happy Cincinnati Bearcats, who have climbed into the top 10 with quarterback Tony Pike suddenly in the Heisman conversations.
That October 15th slug fest at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa has shoot-out written all over it, but first these Bulls need to take care of business and squeeze a win from the Orange.
The Bulls need to avoid the age-old letdown. They are basking in the glory of their 17-7 conquest of Florida State last week in Tallahassee. It was a decisive, impressive win that has their fans making the statement that FSU has been ousted from the state's "Big Three" and that the Bulls have stepped into that slot with Florida and Miami.
"It's what we talked about through spring football and summer camp," said Daniels, who was a puzzle that FSU could not solve. Daniels showed the rest of the league that perhaps it was no big deal that Matt Grothe was lost for the season.
Daniels presents a whole different set of problems. He's bigger, faster, stronger and has a better throwing arm than Grothe.
With that in mind, it was the defense that paved the way at Florida State. A star was born after 60 minutes. His name is Jason Pierre-Paul, the son of Haitian immigrants, who made the league stand up and take notice. Forget George Selvie, you better watch out for this 6-7, 260-pound fury on the opposite end, a bigger guy with long arms who might be every bit as good as Selvie, if not better.
FSU assistants have already declared the junior from Deerfield Beach High, a first-round pick in the NFL draft.
Pierre-Paul, the Big East Defensive Player of the Week, is unimpressed with his accolades. "I have to get better," he said.
That could be really bad news for Syracuse and Paulus.
Still, this is October. This is THE month for the Bulls.
Syracuse, Cincinnati then a visit to Pittsburgh on the 24th then home against West Virginia for a Friday night pre-Halloween game on the 30th.
And that ladies and gentlemen, is the Big East Gauntlet.
The Bearcats, the Panthers and the Mountaineers are the top contenders in the Big East.
USF needs to win, it needs to prove something.
It needs to avoid the sins of the past, the fast start, then the belly flop.
And they need to get rolling on Saturday.
First things first.