South Florida Bulls (3-3, 2-4 ATS) at Cincinnati Bearcats (3-3, 3-3 ATS), Week 8 College Football,
Friday October 22nd 8:00PM Eastern Nippert Stadium Cincinnati, Ohio
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: USF +9/Cinci -9
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Cincinnati Bearcats take the Friday Night lights stage for the 2nd straight week in a row when they host the South Florida Bulls this Friday. The Bearcats pulled out a 35-27 thriller over Louisville last week in their Big East opener and now will get their 2nd test of conference action by way of the visiting Bulls this Friday night. South Florida also took the national stage last week battling West Virginia on Thursday night, but their offense continued to struggle in a 20-6 loss. For the Bulls, it was their 2nd straight loss and in a two game stretch where they have combined for a dismal 15 points. South Florida will attempt to get their offense back on track against a Bearcats team that is no stranger to lighting up the scoreboard when the two collide inside Nippert Stadium.
Luckily for South Florida their defense has continued to play very well which has at least kept them in contention despite the scoring troubles over the past few weeks. The Bulls halted the high power West Virginia offense to just 298 total yards in their loss last week. South Florida ranks 17th in total defense allowing just 300 yards per game and has also been a top 20 scoring defense allowing just 16.7 points per contest. If you consider the offense gave up 3 turnovers last week, the defense played a lot better than the numbers appear on paper. However if the defense continues to get little help from the offense, South Florida may be in jeopardy of falling below the .500 mark on the season.
The problems on offense start and most likely end with QB B.J. Daniels. Daniels has been extremely inconsistent this season throwing 10 interceptions with just 4 touchdowns. One of the biggest plays in the game last week come when Daniels forced a throw with seconds left in the half and the pass was intercepted which led to a late West Virginia touchdown that put the Mountaineers up 17-3 at the break. If not for that key interceptions, the game could have played out much differently considering the Bulls defense shut down the West Virginia offense in the 2nd half.
It is those types of plays exactly that have absolutely killed the Bulls this season and Daniels must find a way to avoid the turnovers. Outside of Daniels, the Bulls have some playmakers in running back Moise Plancher and wide receiver Dontavia Bogan. Bogan had 11 catches for 98 yards last week and Plancher has averaged nearly 5 yards per carry on the season. If South Florida can just avoid the turnovers and get a bit of consistent play from the arm of Daniels, they will be in contention to pull of the victory.
One reason even more focus will be on Daniels this Friday night is because the Bearcats pass defense ranks a miserable 103rd in the nation allowing 252 yards per game through the air. The Bearcats have only given up 21 points per game this season and they are a solid group up front. However even with that being said, the Bearcats secondary has been very questionable all season. South Florida’s best chance to rack up yards will be by getting the ball to Bogan down field and again that means Daniels will have to deliver.
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For the Bearcats offense, they have been a well balanced machine all season. The Bearcats sport the 34th ranked offense in college football averaging 422 yards per game. The passing offense has resulted in 244 of those yards while the ground game is responsible for the additional 178 per game which displays great balance in their attack. QB Zach Collaros has been very solid completing 63% for 1,455 yards, 17 scores, and just 3 picks. Collaros had a career high 5 touchdowns last week and will look to keep the momentum going against the Bulls defense. The South Florida defense will have their hands full with wide receivers D.J. Woods and Armon Binns. Both of the Bearcats star wide outs have very solid numbers this season that nearly mirror each other. Woods has 31 catches for 550 yards with 6 scores while Binns has 32 catches for 525 yards and 7 scores.
Cincinnati can also run the ball well behind tailback Isaiah Pead who has 547 yards on the ground this season. The amazing aspect of those rushing yards is that over 500 of them have come in the last 3 games as Pead missed a few games earlier this year. There is no doubt that he can be a big factor again this Friday night. However, based on the way South Florida has played against the run I believe they may stand strong against the Bearcats rushing attack. The difference will be if Cincinnati can get the passing game going with their big time playmakers because if that happens South Florida does not have the firepower on offense to post a ton of points on the board.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I picked South Florida to cover last week and just missed covering by a few points. This week I’m going against the Bulls because I believe Cincinnati is just a bit better passing team that attacks the weakness of South Florida better than most other teams. As long as the Bearcats do not give up a few turnovers, 9 points should not be a problem here. Take Cincinnati and the points.