Florida State is 2-1 all time against South Florida and is riding a two-game winning streak against the Bulls heading into 2016. The Seminoles notched a 34-14 win a year ago in Tallahassee behind Dalvin Cook's 266 rushing yards in a rainy week two clash.
South Florida underwent a phenomenal turnaround after a rough start to the 2015 season, finishing 7-1 to end the regular season and blowing out AAC foes Temple and Cincinnati. They ended the season with a loss to Western Kentucky in the Miami Beach Bowl, but an 8-5 record was well beyond even the most optimistic Bulls' fan's expectations after their 1-3 start.
USF returns nearly all of its skill position production on offense, including the formidable backfield duo of Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack, as well as most of its passing targets from 2015. The Bulls did lose three linemen on each side of the ball, but they also return six of the back-seven on defense. Bulls' fans will hope that the improvements made in the latter half of 2015 are a sign of things to come in 2016.
SB Nation's Bill Connelly published his always excellent USF preview. Please do read the whole thing, as these are just excerpts.
If the running game is up to snuff (and I assume it will be), USF has even more passing weapons this year. Losing high-efficiency tight end Sean Price hurts, but every wideout targeted with a pass last year is back, and NC State transfer Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a newly eligible, big-bodied option.
Question marks on the lines of scrimmage exist, but there's reason to be bullish on 2016 South Florida.
Phil Steele of PhilSteele.com brings up an interesting self-created stat to address how South Florida may look in 2016. He has the numbers to back up his statement that a team that loses less players to injury/discliplinary issues in a season is more likely to have a dropoff in its win totals the following season. The inverse also holds true as a team that is more snake bit by injuries/off-field incidents is more likely to have a bounce back the next season.
USF finds itself in the upper, less-fortunate portion of this statistic. The Bulls lost only seven total starts across its whole team in 2015 (2.4%, tied for sixth-lowest in the nation). By this notion, the trend indicates that USF may find it hard to match its win total from a season ago unless there are very high amounts of injury luck, like there were for the Bulls in 2015.