2024 Alabama Football Early Opponent Preview, Game 2: South Florida

BamaCentral takes a long first look at each of the Crimson Tide's upcoming opponents this season, next up we examine the South Florida Bulls.
Dec 21, 2023; Boca Raton, FL, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Byrum Brown (17) drops back to pass against the Syracuse Orange in the first quarter during the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2023; Boca Raton, FL, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Byrum Brown (17) drops back to pass against the Syracuse Orange in the first quarter during the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide welcome the South Florida Bulls for the second game of the season. The programs are familiar with one another after the Crimson Tide went to Tampa last season for what turned out to be the turning point in Alabama's season.

The Crimson Tide defeated the Bulls 17-3 in a game that saw a severe weather delay and two different Alabama signal-callers saw action as Nick Saban was trying to settle its starting quarterback position for the remainder of the year.

The Bulls make their first of two trips to Tuscaloosa to pay off the two-for-one contractual agreement and they'll be looking to pull off an upset in the second week of the year. South Florida took a big step forward under Alex Golesh as he got the Bulls back to a bowl game despite coming up short against the Crimson Tide.


Golesh is a Josh Heupel disciple and he brought his wide-open offense to South Florida. Dual-threat quarterback Byrum Brown is expected to lead the Bulls out of the tunnel in Byrant-Denny Stadium after starting all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2023. Brown passed for 3292 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season while adding 809 yards rushing and 11 more touchdowns.

Unfortunately for the Bulls Brown had a challenging day against the Alabama defense in 2023. He completed 50-percent of his passes for 87 yards with an interception but he did find success on the ground rushing for 92 yards, largely on broken play situations.

South Florida scored almost 32 points per game last season but it was the Bulls inability to convert third downs that kept them from truly threatening Alabama in the 2023 matchup. The Bulls return running back Nay'Quan Wright and wide receiver Sean Atkins who both had respectable performances in last season's matchup.

Can Golesh utilize a unit returning 10 starters to threaten new Alabama defensive coordinator Kane Wommack in the second week of the year? The Crimson Tide will have to get set quickly and play sound assignment football in order to slow down an explosive scheme with quality athletes.


The Bulls struggled in 2023 defensively allowing 28 or more points in seven of its 13 contests. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando brings back eight starters from last year's unit that finished 113 in total defense.

South Florida did have success against Alabama last season, limiting the Crimson Tide quarterbacks to just 43-percent passing and just 107 yards through the air. It took a strong second half effort from departed running back Roydell Williams to keep the game out of reach for Alabama, but it was a good defensive effort for South Florida compared to the rest of the season.

Daquan Evans led the defensive effort for the Bulls last season accumulating three sacks, but he's no longer with the team as he's out of eligibility.

Instead for South Florida it will be linebackers Jhalyn Shuler and DJ Gordon IV returning to lead the Bulls defensively. Shuler led the team in tackles last season with 97 and was named American Athletic Conference Honorable mention last season.

If the Bulls can take a step forward defensively its aspirations for competing for a conference championship are in reach.


The game between Alabama and South Florida will be the second for both teams, taking place in Week 2. It will represent a significant step up in competition for the USF Bulls who play host to Bethune-Cookman in the season opener while Alabama will look to use the game as part of a ramp-up period leading into its Week 3 road game against Wisconsin.


The Game


Sept. 7


6 p.m. CT




Bryant-Denny Stadium


Alabama leads 2-0

Last Meeting

2023: Alabama 17-3

The Team


Alex Golesh

Offensive Coordinator

Joel Gordon

Defensive Coordinator

Todd Orlando

2023 Record


2023 Rankings

Total offense: No. 33; Total defense: No. 113

Returning Starters

18 (Offense: 10, Defense: 8)

Players to Watch

QB Byrum Brown, RB Nay'quan Wright, WR Sean Atkins, LB Jhalyn Shuler, FS Logan Berryhill,

Top Newcomer

WR Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen transferred from Purdue into South Florida. In three years of action he hauled in 34 receptions for 456 yards for the Boilermakers.

Biggest Question

Can South Florida continue its ascension under head coach Alex Golesh? The Bulls improved its win total from one to seven in Golesh's first season, making and winning the Boca Raton Bowl and finishing fifth in the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls had a top 40 offense last season but had an abysmal defense leading to high scoring shootouts throughout 2023. If South Florida's defense can improve under second year defensive coordinator Todd Orlando the Bulls can find themselves as a competitor for the American Athletic Conference crown.

The School


Tampa, Fla.








Green, Gold, White


Rocky D. Bull

The Program

Last Time Beat Alabama


Last Time Won American Athletic Conference


National Championships


Playoff Appearances


Conference Championships


Bowl Record


Last Season Missed Bowl


Heisman Trophies


2024 NFL Draft


Last Four Recruiting Class Rankings

No. 50 (2024), No. 76 (2023), No. 91 (2022), No. 65 (2021)

The Schedule

Aug. 31: Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 7: at Alabama
Sept. 14: at Southern Mississippi
Sept. 21: Miami
Sept. 28: at Tulane
Oct. 11: Memphis
Oct. 19: UAB
Nov. 1: at Florida Atlantic
Nov. 9: Navy
Nov. 16: at Charlotte
Nov. 23: Tulsa
No. 29: at Rice

This is the second story in BamaCentral's series previewing Alabama's opponents

Joe Gaither


My name is Joe Gaither, I am a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., and a 2018 graduate of the University of Alabama. I have a strong passion for sports and giving a voice to the underserved. Feel free to email me at joegaither6@icloud.com for tips, story ideas or comments.