Date: Friday, October 12th
Kickoff Time: 7 p.m. EST
Betting Line: USF -7.5, FPI: 63.3%
Series Record: USF leads the series, 2-0
Last Meeting: USF won, 27-20, on November 16, 2017
South Florida Bulls Outlook
Last week’s game had its share of highs and lows, but the Bulls continued their winning ways. The pool of undefeated teams has been narrowed to 11 with the Bulls being one of them.
USF had a pretty great day on offense. They immediately set the tone with a beautiful 72-yard deep ball from Blake Barnett to Tyre McCants, but the real star of the USF offense was Jordan Cronkrite. Cronkrite, one of my picks for newcomer of the year, set an AAC record with 302 yards rushing, with big touchdown runs (one for 50 yards, two for 70 yards) that proved costly for the Minutemen.
What is crazy is the fact that USF could have put up even more points. There were plenty of times where passes were dropped, penalties put them behind the chains and a lack of ball security cost the Bulls early points. While they did let UMass stay in the game, they dominated after halftime. The Bulls put up 28 points in the third as good special teams play and a dynamic offense were able to put the game out of reach for the Minutemen.
The defense actually was not too bad. They did give up more points than they should have, but there were some good things on the defensive side of the ball. USF constantly put pressure on Andrew Ford and Ross Comis. The constant duress eventually resulted in poor throws and even an interception. At the end of the day, USF racked up five turnovers. While giving up a lot of points and yards is an issue, there are a lot of positive takeaways from USF’s defense.
USF travels to Tulsa for a game where the Bulls will take the main stage. A dominating appearance on ESPN is a must if USF wants to be taken seriously. They face a Tulsa team that recently gave Houston a run for their money. With an improved defense and a strong running game, Tulsa has been more competitive this year. That being said, here are my main keys for USF to win this game:
- Continue to be explosive on offense: If USF sleeps on Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane have a chance at winning. The Bulls must continue to set up the big plays that happened against UMass. Barnett and Cronkrite have been extremely valuable additions to this team. They have to keep doing what they are doing.
- Defense continues to be disruptive: Tulsa’s main strength is their offensive line. I’m not expecting a whole lot of sacks. But the Bulls defensive line is going to have to continue to apply tons of pressure. They must let Seth Boomer make all the mistakes. Tulsa has the most turnovers in the nation. The Bulls must capitalize on this statistic.
- Start fast: USF started fast the last time out. However, they immediately cooled down before taking over in the second half. USF needs to play a complete game.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane Outlook
The Golden Hurricane played a sound game for three quarters. Unfortunately, they could not finish in the fourth quarter, thus resulting in a 41-26 loss to Houston. We really should commend Tulsa for putting forth a good effort though. Seth Boomer, making his starting debut, went 13-of-31 for 227 yards and one touchdown. It was a mediocre start to his career, but not horrible for his first career start. Tulsa did not miss a beat on the ground game, despite star running back Shamari Brooks not being able to play. Corey Taylor II had himself a game as the starter, carrying the ball 33 times for 152 yards and a touchdown.
The offense struggled towards the end of the game, however. Boomer started to look for like a freshman when pressure was applied. The Tulsa coaching staff also made a questionable call when they left Taylor in even though he signaled to the sideline for a substitute. They were then subsequently stopped on third down and Taylor left the game injured. Overall, Tulsa looked improved, but they are still a work in progress on offense.
Defensively, Tulsa dominated Houston for three quarters. They caused three turnovers (a fumble and two interceptions), and were led by their defensive leader Cooper Edmiston, who came up with a huge interception that shifted the momentum early. It was impressive how Tulsa played against the front-runner in the AAC West. However, their main area of weakness was the struggle to contain mobile quarterback D’Eriq King. King eventually would get lose in the fourth quarter for a long touchdown run off a speed option. They did a good job limiting Houston’s offense for three quarters. The question is, can they play with that intensity for four quarters?
Tulsa has a chance to make a statement. They are playing at home against a ranked opponent on national programming. What more could they ask for? However, with the chance to make a statement also comes the possibility of getting embarrassed. The Bulls come off a game where they dominated on offense and special teams, and even the defense ended up being pretty solid, forcing five turnovers. With all that said, here are my keys for Tulsa to win the game:
- Limit the turnovers: It’s no secret that Tulsa has had the most turnovers of any team in the FBS. Tulsa had three costly turnovers in their last game. The top priority this week should be ball security. Boomer needs to be a game manager, not a playmaker.
- Play to your strength: Tulsa’s greatest strengths are their offensive line and running game. Brooks and Taylor II are both supposed to be back, AND Tulsa needs to take the pressure of Boomer by letting the running backs take the majority of the work. With these two backs, 100 yards from each is not out of reach.
- Scheme differently than the Houston game: USF and Houston both possess potent offenses, but they are completely different teams to scheme against. The scheme against Houston was trying to contain King and stop big plays through the air. That will not work against USF. Barnett is not as mobile and USF will try to get the power running game going before they go to the air for big chunks. They have to take a different approach.
I think this is a huge statement game for USF. It is national attention, and for Black Friday hype against UCF, a win in dominant fashion is a must. I think USF will come out firing against Tulsa. Barnett will be the star of the game, proving he was worthy of the five-star rating. If Tulsa can get the run game going and can take time off the clock, I think it could be a low-scoring affair like last year. With that said, give me the Bulls by double digits.
USF 45 - Tulsa 23