South Florida-Florida State
Start Time: 11:30 A.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 12
Location: Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida
Streaming: WatchESPN and here.
Records: South Florida 1-0, Florida State 1-0. Overall series tied 1-1.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: South Florida -28.5, Over/Under 53.5.
South Florida Outlook: The Bulls opened up the 2015 season with a more up tempo offense designed to take advantage of the sheer number of athletes on the roster. One game into the experiment, success was abundant with the Bulls running up a 51-3 win over Florida A&M.
South Florida racked up 556 yards of total offense, including 275 on the ground, in the dominant win. Sophomore running back Marlon Mack (23/131/1TD) led the way with Darius Tice (8/77/1TD) looking explosive in limited action. The passing game looked excellent versus an inferior foe with 286 yards and three touchdowns in the air. Nine different players caught a pass for the Bulls.
Sophomore linebacker Auggie Sanchez (10 tkl, 2 tfl) picked up from a solid 2014 season with a team-leading 10 tackles while Bruce Hector (6 tkl, 3 tfl, 2 sacks) also impressed. The Bulls defense had 15.0 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two interceptions on the day in holding Florida A&M to 182 total yards.
This squad has over 40 redshirt and true freshmen on the roster so it will look very inexperienced but talented. If the younger players can get over early season jitters, South Florida could surprise many pundits.
Florida State Outlook: The Seminoles are coming off of a dominant opening night win over Texas State in which they accumulated over 600 yards of total offense and 59 points. Quarterback Everett Golson (19-25/302/4TD) was excellent behind center with running backs Dalvin Cook (19/156/2TD) and Mario Pender (14/92/1TD) also having good games. 13 different receivers caught passes for Florida State in the blowout win.
Eight different defenders made four or more tackles for a Seminoles defense that is extremely talented. Lamarcus Brutus (7 tkl), Terrance Smith (7 tkl), and Tyrell Lyons (7 tkl, 0.5 tfl) led the way defensively with All-American candidate Jalen Ramsey adding four tackles. Overall, the Florida State defense held Texas State to only 300 total yards and 16 points.
Florida State may not be quite as good as the 2014 or 2013 versions, but they are full of talent all over the roster and should compete for an ACC title this fall.
Prediction: The key to this game for South Florida is making this game as sloppy as possible. Forcing Florida State into mistakes and taking advantage of an aggressive Seminole defense are key. Florida State is the more talented team on paper but the talent gap is not as wide as some would make you think.
Bulls head coach WIllie Taggart is coaching for his job this season and a win like this would go a very long way in keeping his services one more season. Alas, the mountain is too tall to climb this week for South Florida. Florida State wins big.