Kansas Jayhawks vs. South Florida Bulls Preview and Pick

#12 Kansas Jayhawks (2-0), -4, o/u @ #17 South Florida Bulls (2-0), +4, o/u , Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla., 8 p.m. Eastern, Friday

By Oracle of Predictem.com

The last time the Kansas Jayhawks and South Florida Bulls met in 2006, they weren’t on most people’s national radar screen. Nowadays, these two teams can’t seem to stay out of the headlines.

The Bulls, who at one point was the No. 2 team in the country just last year, and the Jayhawks, who played in, and won, a BCS game last season, will play a huge non-conference game in South Florida on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. This tilt is almost certain to go a long ways for the winner as far as even more national attention and BCS rankings go, even though it is early in the year.

While Kansas has pretty much coasted through the first two weeks of the season, South Florida was in survival mode this past Friday against inter-state rival Central Florida. They came out battered and bruised, but pulled out the 31-24 overtime victory.

The lack of running game against CFU may be a concern for the Bulls heading into Friday’s contest. Quarterback Matt Grothe was their leading ground gainer, carrying the rock 20 times for 54 yards. No other Bull got more than nine carries on the night. It was the total opposite story in Week 1 for SFU, as they demolished Tennessee-Martin by a 56-7 score and gained 300 yards on the ground. So which ground game will show up against Kansas?

Grothe, who has been through the ups and downs with SFU, will need the running game to balance the attack when they face a fast and hard-hitting Kansas defense.

Online Sportsbooks are putting the home team Bulls as a favorite -4 while the over/under hasn’t been posted at the time of this article being published. The spread has moved down a bit at most online books to -3.5. So far, the general consensus is favoring the Jayhawks big time to cover, nearly 65/35.

The Kansas defense held first week opponent Florida International to just 139 total yards and have forced a total of four turnovers while allowing just 10 points in the first two games.

Meanwhile, quarterback Todd Reesing has begun where he left off last season, already totaling 666 yards and throwing six touchdowns in his first two games.

Both teams play fast and physical, but it’s South Florida that has the advantage in a couple of major categories such as points per game, yards gained, yards allowed and time of possession.

The biggest match up to look for in this contest is the Kansas passing attack against the Bulls’ secondary. South Florida is sixth in the nation against the pass this season, giving up just 94 yards through the air per game.

Meanwhile, the Kansas air attack is averaging over 330 yards per game, good enough for 10th in the nation.

Not to be outdone, the Jayhawks are giving up just 96 yards passing per game on defense, right behind SFU in the rankings.

The head-to-head matchup back in 2006, in which Kansas won 13-7, really has zero bearing on the game Friday. Both quarterbacks were virtual unknowns at the time and the two squads were struggling for national attention.

Kansas has been great for bettors on the road lately, going 5-0 ATS in the last five overall away games. They are no pushover either when they play teams with a winning record, posting a 6-1 record ATS in their last seven.

In similar fashion, SFU is stellar at home, going 9-2 ATS in the last 11 in Tampa, so something here has to give. A big trend that bettors may find interesting is the fact that South Florida is 0-5 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record.

It should be an entertaining match up between teams that went through a rough patch earlier in the decade, to what could be considered legitimate BCS Champion threats in a playing field that is slowly evening out. Whoever wins this contest is one more headline closer to making that happen.

Oracle’s Pick: Kansas hasn’t exactly been spectacular against two less than average opponents, while SFU had a nice win against a tough Central Florida team. It’s safe to say there are still question marks for both teams, but for now we are going against the general public and taking the Bulls minus the points!