Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-8 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. South Florida Bulls (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 16th, 7:30 PM
Where: Raymond James Stadium
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tulsa +22 / USF -22
Over/Under Total: 66.5
Tulsa travels to Tampa to take on South Florida in a battle of AAC teams that had similar expectations heading into the season but have instead had their paths go in near opposite directions as the year has progressed. While the Bulls hold an 8-1 record and find themselves in conference championship contention, the Golden Hurricane are just 2-8 as their season has complete come off the rails despite having been picked in the preseason as a possible winner of the American Athletic Conference Western division.
After finishing last year with a 10-3 record in what was Philip Montgomerys second season as the Hurricane head coach, many thought they could possibly match last years success when they finished just a game away from playing for their first conference championship since winning the Conf-USA title in 2012. Unfortunately for Tulsa fans their only highlights thus far have been an early season win at Toledo and an upset victory in October against Houston, and now with tough games remaining against South Florida and Temple look as though they will be finishing with only two victories for the second time in the past four seasons.
Hoping for a change in momentum, the Golden Hurricane switched to Luke Skipper at quarterback from Chad President. Skipper led Tulsa to their upset win of Houston but has since struggled with consistency during the three game losing streak that has followed, though it does appear as though they will be sticking with the more pro style quarterback in Skipper over the running threat capabilities of President. Whoever is throwing the ball around will look to receivers Justin Hobbs and Kennen Johnson, who are the only two at the position with over 20 catches on the season and have also accounted for three of the just five touchdowns that Tulsa has through the air through ten games. With stats like that its no wonder the team ranks just a paltry 101st nationally in passing offense.
Thankfully for Tulsa they at least have a quality running game to rely on that is 15th nationally in yards per game and led by senior DAngelo Brewer, who surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the second consecutive year and has scored eight touchdowns in their past eight games while rushing for at least 119 yards in six of their past eight. Brewer will now have to take on the lead role after fellow running back Shamari Brooks broke his collarbone on Halloween, which ended a season in which he had already rushed for 687 yards and ten touchdowns.
The Golden Hurricane offense has been able to seemingly hold its own for the most part this season, but the same can not be said for their defense that finds itself ranked at the bottom of the barrel in nearly every defensive category, currently sitting at 128th in yards allowed per game, 121st in scoring, 118th against the pass and 128th versus the rush. All of which raises a serious question as to how they could possibly contain or even keep up with the potent South Florida offense awaiting them in Tampa on Thursday night.
Fresh off of a 37-20 win against Connecticut, the Bulls will look to continue their offensive dominance after putting up 602 total yards against the Huskies. Last weeks victory was especially important after South Florida saw their perfect season come to an end in the week previous when they lost to Houston 28-24, in a game in which they won the turnover battle and outgained the Cougars in yards, total possessions and first downs, but careless mistakes including allowing a 4th and 22 conversion in the final seconds that set up Houston for their game winning score would turn out be the Bulls final undoing. While the loss eliminated South Florida from any sort of playoff or New Years Six bowl consideration, they still have a chance to win the AAC-East and play for the conference championship if they win next week at undefeated Central Florida in what is essentially the defacto divisional title game.
The focal point of the South Florida offense continues to be quarterback Quinton Flowers, who is coming off of his best game of the season after throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing 16 times for 131 yards in leading his team to the victory over UConn. The multi-dimensional threat that looks like an exact combination of Omar from The Wire and Sean P-Diddy Combs will hope to ride that momentum into the Bulls Senior Night on Thursday, in what will be his final game in front of the hometown fans along with fellow offensive stars in running back DErnest Johnson and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Johnson has combined with fellow running back Darius Tice to form a lethal backfield duo that along with Flowers has helped the Bulls offense to a 7th overall ranking nationally in rushing yards per game and also clearly contributing to their team currently sitting at 9th in total offense and 11th in scoring with an average of 39.1 points per game. Amongst the receivers, Valdes-Scantling is the obvious focal point of the group as he has more than twice as many receptions as his next highest teammate and over his last two games has put up 16 receptions for 338 yards while also having scored twice in the past three weeks.
Facing a team coming off of bye week that has had an extra week to prepare is never an easy variable to deal with, and that combined with South Florida possibly looking ahead to their AAC showdown against UCF next week may make some wary about laying the three touchdowns with the Bulls. While I understand the hesitation, the fact of the matter is Tulsa is simply too overmatched to put up a fight against USF, as the Golden Hurricane lack the offensive prowess to keep pace with their opponent and even more so have a sieve of a defense that doesnt seem to have much of a chance of putting up a fight against the Bulls offensive juggernaut. Tulsa has lost their last sixteen games against ranked opponents by an average of over 26 points per game, and that lack of success will continue on Thursday in Tampa as I expect South Florida to get an easy win and cover on Senior Night in Quinton Flowers last ever home game of his college career.
Mike M’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: South Florida -22. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.