The Syracuse Orange (3-1, 1-0) will travel to face the South Florida Bulls (1-3, 0-1) in non-conference action Saturday afternoon. South Florida has won six of the last eight meetings but Syracuse took a 37-36 win as a 3 point underdog on October 27, 2012 in the most recent meeting between the schools.
Syracuse is coming off a bye last week; they were downed 34-24 at home by then-#8 LSU in their most recent contest. South Florida dropped their third straight game as they were beaten 24-17 by Memphis at home last Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. South Florida is currently a 2.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 48.5 points in this contest.
Syracuse found themselves outgained by a 425-281 margin in the contest against LSU and committed the game’s lone turnover. The Orange was also hurt by a punt return for a score by LSU in the game and their inability to stop Leonard Fournette in the LSU offensive attack. Syracuse was down to their third quarterback; Zach Mahoney threw three touchdown passes but was 16 of 38 throwing the ball for 154 yards in the loss. After trailing 7-3 at the half, the Orange was outscored 17-7 in the third quarter and couldn’t recover.
The Orange averages 162.5 yards per game through the air and 188.2 yards per game on the ground. Syracuse averages 32 points per game while they are 34th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 19.5 points per game. The Orange has major issues at quarterback as Terrel Hunt is done for the year with a torn Achilles. Eric Dungey, who was playing in Hunt’s stead, was nailed with a hard shot and has been downgraded to doubtful with a head injury for this one. Without Dungey, the Orange will have to turn to either Austin Wilson (4 of 8, 49 yards, TD, INT) or Zack Mahoney (20 of 42, 173 yards, 3 TD, INT) to run the offense. Syracuse was running the ball nearly 64 percent of the time so far with 157 rushing attempts compared to 89 passing attempts. That may be Syracuse’s best chance at staying in the game and protecting a fragile quarterback situation.
South Florida started off well, taking a 10-0 advantage in the opening minute of the second quarter but they couldn’t hold on against Memphis. The Bulls were outgained 425-377 but committed the lone turnover in the contest. After taking that 10-0 lead, South Florida allowed the next 24 points and didn’t score after the 14:56 mark of the second quarter until 1:49 remained in the contest. By that point, they were down two scores and simply ran out of time to get back in the contest.
The Bulls are averaging 166.2 yards per game through the air while they are 28th in the nation in rushing with 210.5 yards per game. South Florida averages 25 points per game while they allow 24 points per contest. Quinton Flowers is running the offense and has hit 51 of 85 throws for 525 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while ranking second on the team with 209 rushing yards plus two scores. Marlon Mack is the team’s leading rusher with 73 carries for 392 yards and a score while Darius Tice is the second back in the system with 28 carries for 179 yards and two scores. D’Ernest Johnson is the lone receiver for South Florida with double digit receptions with 14 grabs for 223 yards and four scores. Emilio Nadelman has booted all 12 extra points and three field goal attempts on the year.
Syracuse is 7-1 ATS in their last eight after allowing less than 170 yards through the air, 4-1 ATS in their last five against teams with a losing record and 11-5 ATS in their last 16 non-conference games. South Florida is 6-19-2 ATS in their last 27 at home, 0-4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up loss and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five at home against teams with a winning road record.
The Orange is trying to deal with playing a third string quarterback at best in this contest while dealing with a South Florida team that has been up and down offensively this season. The Bulls have struggled to come up with big plays at key times on both sides of the ball. South Florida lacks the killer instinct to put teams away and that will burn them here; take the points and the Orange.