The 18th-ranked South Florida Bulls take their dynamic offense on the road to East Carolina for this Saturday’s game versus the Pirates. The game will begin at noon EST from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, South Carolina. The game will air on CBS Sports.
After a series of slow starts, South Florida looks to finally be on a roll. And even more importantly, they’re starting to show promise on both sides of the ball.
Everyone knew the Bulls offense, led by all-AAC quarterback Quinton Flowers, would be one of the more electric groups in the country. Beyond him, USF has a pair of workhorses in the backfield, D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice. But what surprised many is how the USF defense has grown up.
The rush D has only given up over 100 yards once (109), and gave up only four yards on the ground after 33 carries for Temple. They’ve created the most turnovers in the country and have best turnover margin on top of that. They lead the country in interceptions by three picks. That’s a long way from being 120th in defense last season.
It’ll spell trouble for an East Carolina team that won with offense last week in Connecticut. They also gave up 38 points to one of the worst offensive teams in the country, and that will be what dooms them this weekend.
USF is currently 23.5-point favorites.
Vegas is whether still unsure about the way South Florida starts games or they think a win over UConn will give ECU some offensive momentum. But the evolution of the USF on all three levels of the defense is hard to look past, as is the fact the Pirates have given up nearly 200 points in four games. And one of those was against an FCS team.
It’s hard to believe these two teams are even in the same conference they’re so far apart talent-wise. If the Bulls aren’t thrown off by an early kickoff, they could be up 24 at half. USF has covered the spread the last five times they’ve played ECU, and that won’t change here.
ECU doesn’t have the personnel to matchup against elite offensive playmakers, and USF has four of them: Flowers, Johnson, Tice, and Marquez Valdez-Scantling if he can cut out some of his drops. South Florida can pick their poison, because the Pirates have struggled between and outside the tackles, on short-to-intermediate passes and against down the field throws. They’re susceptible to everything, and their offense is going to have to be at their best to even attempt to cover it up.
They might as well cross out the run game, because USF has denied lanes to everyone they’ve played. ECU has only 3.1 yards per-carry this year. Going back to Thomas Sirk at QB definitely gave them a spark, but he’s been prone to throw picks and USF will be licking their chops for picks.
Barring laziness, not taking the competition seriously, or being over-anxious to make big plays, USF should take control from the get-go. It’ll be a field day for Flowers, in what could be the first time we see USF break 50 points this season.