Big East play is here. It’s once again that time of year when USF and its fans have big expectations and hopes for the school’s first conference title and the BCS bowl bid that comes along with it. It seems like every year in recent memory the Bulls go into conference play with legitimate hopes for this to occur, but it has gone terribly wrong every time. With the Big (or maybe “Little”) East looking very weak so far this season, USF seems to have a golden opportunity to finally win that coveted title. This weekend against Syracuse is the first step towards this, and at home USF should to take care of its business to start out 1-0 against Big East foes.
- Syracuse is 3-1 overall, but all 3 wins were against non-BCS conference schools, with their one loss coming at the hands of Washington, the only BCS school they have played. Syracuse is going to want to be pretty balanced on offense. They rank around the middle of the country in both rushing and passing. Quarterback Ryan Nassib has a good-looking 9 to 2 touchdown to interception ratio, and runningback Delone Carter is averaging over 100 yards per game with 5 scores through 4 games. The Orange’s go-to receiver has been Van Chew. He has a couple touchdowns and 343 yards on 19 catches. There isn’t any one stat that jumps of the page for this offense, but it is definitely balanced and is averaging a decent 32.3 points per game, ranking 40th in the nation in that category.
- The defense of the Orange ranks 23rd overall in points against. However playing Akron, Maine and Colgate will definitely skew this stat in Syracuse’s favor. Against the Washington Huskies the Syracuse defense surrendered 41 points, allowing 467 total yards. USF doesn’t have a Jake Locker at quarterback, but the talent of South Florida should allow them to be able to move the ball without too much resistance. Syracuse hasn’t faced the type of offensive line play and running game that the Bulls are going to be shoving down the throat of its defense yet either.
- USF’s quarterback B.J. Daniels is coming off his best game since the first week of the season. He was extremely efficient and didn’t turn the ball over. If B.J. continues to throw the ball to the guys in USF uniforms then the Bulls shouldn’t have too much trouble. It is when he throws the ball to the other team that USF has its struggles.
- Demetris Murray will be back in the backfield this week and with the combination of Murray, Plancher, Daniels and that offensive line, I fully expect the running game to excel. Don’t be surprised to see the Bulls go to the running game early and often. I see a 200+ yard game coming and quite a few scores to come along with all of the yardage. The South Florida running game has been its rock and been pretty unstoppable (averaging just under 200 yards a game). This will be key as conference play continues. If they are able to run the ball the way they have been for the first 4 games, USF will have a great shot against any Big East team that steps on the field with them.
At noon on Saturday South Florida begins Big East play and should begin it with a bang. I really don’t see a way Syracuse can match up with USF’s talent for 4 quarters. Last year the only thing keeping this matchup close whatsoever was Mike Williams doing whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted for the Orange. However, if I’m not mistaken he is wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform now, so the Bulls defense can breathe a BIGGGGGGGG sigh of relief on that one. Simply put – I look for the Bulls to score a lot in this one and I look for Syracuse to score a lot less.