Louisville at South Florida
(Friday, 8 am PT - ESPN2)
South Florida -3 O/U 43.5
South Florida -3 (-115) O.U 43.5
Rob Veno Power Rating:
South Florida -6
We have two teams here that have been heading in opposite directions for the better part of two months now. USF has been a train wreck since late September, losers of five of its last six games overall. They’ve covered just one spread in their last seven contests and were favored in each game. Louisville meanwhile has morphed into a solid bunch under head coach Charlie Strong with wins in four of its last five games and ATS victories in six of seven.
The Bulls can attribute this lack of production to a number of issues including, but not limited to, injuries to various key offensive personnel. The receiving corps in particular has been hit hard with the loss of leading wideout Sterling Griffin and expected contributors AJ Love and Terrence Mitchell along the way. That has left Victor Marc as the leading producer with 27 receptions. The next receiving options are both freshmen who have been spotty at best. The offense has really struggled during this losing stretch, held to just 17 points or less in losses to Pitt, UConn, Rutgers and Miami. Two outbursts came in between against Cincinnati and Syracuse but the star performer in each of those two games, quarterback BJ Daniels, is questionable this week with a sprained throwing shoulder. In addition to his solid play from a pass perspective in those two games, Daniels was also the leading rusher for the Bulls. His absence would leave Bobby Eveld under center. Eveld is not the threat Daniels is running the football and like many young signal callers short on experience he struggles with his consistency in completing passes and with turnovers (six INTs vs. just two TDs in his career).
Louisville isn’t exactly the type of defense you want to be facing with your backup quarterback. The Cardinals are flying to the ball right now averaging over 7.5 tackles for loss and nearly three sacks per game. They have allowed just 18.7 ppg this season, good for second in the conference. Strong passing offenses can give this defense some problems but that doesn’t seem likely to be the case this week so I expect another strong showing from this stop unit.
The Cardinals own offense has been a bit of a sore spot though, not overly proficient on the ground or through the air. They managed to score just a shade over 20 ppg this season and even though they’ve put up over 28 ppg the last three weeks it’s been on just 310 yards per game. No wonder then we’ve seen their totals go under in eight of 11 games this season. They aren’t likely to break out here for a 30-spot unless they get major contributions on the scoreboard from the defense and special teams as USF’s stop unit has been very good this season. The Bulls have really clamped down on the run and outside of the spread attacks of Pitt and Cincinnati, have held every opponent to 24 or less.
I’d expect another low scoring affair this week and if Daniels does indeed miss out due to injury I’d be looking to play Louisville and the under.