coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
On 10/27/2013 07:15 AM in NCAA Football

South Florida Bulls at Houston Cougars: Preview and Pick

South Florida Bulls at Houston Cougars: Preview and Pick

The Thursday night college football game that features the lowly South Florida Bulls would usually not be an attractive affair on the gridiron, but their opponent is turning heads at the betting window this season. After a convincing win on the road against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Houston Cougars remained perfect against the spread (ATS), which is an amazing feat at this point in the season.

South Florida Bulls at Houston Cougars Odds
The college football odds for this game will favor the 6-1 Cougars because they are easily the straight superior team in this matchup and they will have the home field advantage. The betting public will soon get wind of this perfect record against the spread if they have not already, and the end result will be an overflow of money on the home team which will push this line higher and higher leading up to kickoff.

The Cougars have been flying under the radar but that is all going to change for this prime time affair. They are led by youth and impressive on both sides of the ball. True freshman John O’Korn threw five touchdown passes, including three to Deontay Greenberry, to lead the Houston Cougars to a 49-14 dismantling of Rutgers on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.

The Cougars defense forced six turnovers in the game, overcoming a slow start to shut out the Scarlet Knights over the final 2 ½ quarters. With the win, the Cougars improved to 6-1 overall and remained in a first-place tie with Central Florida at 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference.

The Cougars scored touchdowns on seven of eight possessions between the second and third quarters on the way to 611 yards total offense. They should have similar success against the Bulls.

The college football betting trends for this game reveal some ugly trends for the road team as they continue to struggle on the season. South Florida is 1-6 straight up in its last 7 games on the road and 3-13-1 straight up in its last 17 games. That disgusting record also includes a 4-7-1 ATS record in the last 12 games on the college football highway. Despite having a high powered offense, the total has gone under in 4 of Houston's last 6 games at home. Houston is 6-1-1 straight up in its last 8 games and 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games at home. All trends point to a long night for the visiting Bulls.

South Florida Bulls at Houston Cougars Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/28/2013 02:59 PM

The 2-5 South Florida Bulls meet the 6-1 Houston Cougars in Thursday night AAC action from Reliant Stadium.

South Florida lost their first conference game of the season and saw their surprise 2 game win streak come to an end this past weekend as an angry Louisville team came to town and dominated the Bulls 34-3. South Florida took multiple steps back in this contest allowing the Cardinals to dissect their secondary and shut out the Bulls offense after the first quarter in a romp of a game. South Florida finished with an abysmal 133 yards of total offense and were limited to only 18 minutes of possession for the entire game.

Louisville racked up nearly 500 yards on a Bulls defense that had been solid last week. To make matters worse, the Bulls were only called for 2 penalties all game and Louisville racked up 100 penalty yards -- which had no effect on this contest. Sophomore quarterback Steven Bench replaced Eveld early in this one but struggled as well throwing the ball just 12 times for 68 yards and a pick. The Bulls need to put this one behind them quickly with the short week and a potent Houston offense looming.

Houston put together arguably the most impressive performance of AAC conference play this past Saturday, dominating Rutgers in New Jersey 49-14. The Cougars were firing on all cylinders in this one as quarterback John O’Korn threw for 5 touchdowns and 364 yards on a rock solid 24-30 attempts. Wideouts Greenberry and Spencer combined for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns and 6 other Cougar wideouts caught passes as well.

Houston completely shellshocked a solid Rutgers defense who has given up quite a few points this season but had been very strong on their home turf. On the other side of the ball, the Cougar defense forced 6 turnovers (5 interceptions, 1 fumble) and held the Rutgers offense to a season low 216 total yards.

Some trends to consider -- USF is 7-20-1 against the spread in their last 28 games overall and Houston is 4-0 against the spread in their last 4 games at home.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/29/2013 02:47 PM

The University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart said that his offense is a serious point of concern but as soon as the Bulls’ coaching staff and Taggart find some playmakers then everything will be just fine.

The Bulls’ offense has not scored a touchdown in three games, how can this team be 2-1 in the conference?

The answer is-by sure luck and a defense that can provide touchdowns off of turnovers.

Any way you look at it, the formula is helpful but it is not going to win too many ballgames.

The Bulls’ total offense of just 133 yards against the Cardinals, pleased the University of Louisville football coach Charles Strong, he enjoyed watching his defense make plays, make stops and force the Bulls to punt the ball back to the capable hands of Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater threw for 344 yards, completing 25-of-29 passes and three touchdowns. It was his 12th 300-yard game in Bridgewater’s career and his sixth this season.

Taggart on the other hand watched his offense struggle with every phase of the offensive game plan.

In the first quarter and early in the second quarter, Bulls’starting quarterback Bobby Eveld did seem to find some sense of rhythm but late in the first half Eveld was sacked and he went down with an injury to his ankle and did not return to the game.

Taggart went with Steven Bench to replace Eveld but Taggart said after the game that Bench was not at 100 percent recovered from his injury that occurred against the University of Cincinnati.

Bench threw 12 passes and completed four of them for a total of 68 yards.

With 7:50 left in the fourth quarter, Bench threw an interception that Cardinals defensive back Charles Gaines, he returned the ball back 70-yards for a touchdown ending the scoring for the day for both teams and after the score there was a mass stampede from most of the Bulls’ football fans heading for the parking lot.

Taggart sat Bench down and with 7:44 left to go in regulation and Mike White made his first appearance as the Bulls’ new quarterback.

Taggart said at that point of the game, he put White in the game looking for a spark for the offense, he knew that he would be unable to red-shirt White.

There was no spark, no flicker or any other thing that could have helped the Bulls’ offense.

Now nieces and nephews do not think that your old uncle does not sympathize or understand what Taggart and his staff is going through – because he does!

The excuse of being a young team works for awhile but many coaches say that a certain point in the season that youthfulness should be replaced with experienced football players.

So far this season, injuries have hurt the Bulls and has devastated the offense, especially with running the ball.

The injury to running back Marcus Shaw is devastating because of the potential of Shaw’s talent but it also slowed down the progression of the rest of the young running backs.

Bench started to begin making strides in becoming a competitive and confident quarterback before he went down with an injury and now Eveld will be out for awhile with a bad ankle so Taggart said after the game against Louisville that White will be working in preparations as early as Sunday night getting ready for the University of Houston.

The Bulls are last in the American Athlete Conference in offense, last in scoring, last in passing and eighth in rushing the ball with the prognoses of not getting offensively better for the rest of the season.

Taggart said he is looking for playmakers that can make things happen for the offense, he said, even if he has to play somebody both ways like real old-school football.

A win against the Cougars would be a sweet treat indeed.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/30/2013 11:36 AM

The Bulls have the chance to play in front of a national audience this week, with their matchup with Houston serving as ESPN's primetime national TV game.

Taggart said playing in front of the national audience tends to intimidate some players, but he hopes that won't happen this week.

“Our guys are excited and they believe,” he said. “Guys have to want to show up and show out. That's what it is. The spotlight does strange things to some people, it just does. Some people relish that, some people hide.

“We need a lot of people that want to go out and make a name for themselves and for this university. That's what it takes, guys being fired up to show people that they can play football with the big boys.

Houston will wear special Halloween-themed uniforms for the game, with reddish-orange helmets and features on all-black jerseys and pants.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/31/2013 03:13 PM

Tonight’s favorite will be the Houston Cougars who are 17.5 point favorites. The game total for points scored in the entire game is set at 53.5 currently. South Florida is currently sitting at a mark of 2-5 overall, but has a winning record of 2-1 in this year’s new AAC conference. Among their victories were wins over Cincinnati and Connecticut. Last week saw them fall to Louisville 34-3, though, and they rank only in the top 100 in terms of defense, allowing 30.7 points per game which is good for 89th in the NCAA. Otherwise, their offense has struggled mightily as they are 117th in passing and 111th in rushing.

On the other side, Houston is 17th in passing yards and 10th in points per game with 42 a contest. Their defense also ranks 32nd, giving up just 22.3 points a game. Quarterback John O’Korn has been racking up the stats for this high-scoring team, as he has compiled 1,858 yards and 19 touchdowns on 139-of-220 completed passes. Deontay Greenberry has been the Cougars’ top receiver with 842 yards on 58 receptions, as well as eight touchdowns. Among Houston’s wins have been blowouts against Rutgers (49-14), UTSA (59-28) and Southern (62-13). Their only loss was by a point to BYU back on Oct. 29. The Cougars will have a few big tests on the way as they’ll face No.23 UCF and No.19 Louisville in the next several weeks.

All that said, they’re favored to win in tonight’s matchup by about 18 points at many sports books. The money line bet is priced high at about -1200, while the underdog Bulls are +760. Weather forecasts show temperatures by kickoff in the mid 70’s under mostly cloudy skies with a 60% chance of rain showers or storms early.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/31/2013 03:17 PM

University of South Florida coach Willie Taggart has been to Houston many times for recruiting. The last trip, he believes, was during his days as a Stanford University assistant, a home visit with quarterback prospect Andrew Luck.

That must seem like eons ago.

What a concept: Having a dynamic quarterback capable of producing touchdowns with a flick of his wrist.

Tonight, Taggart brings the offensively challenged USF Bulls (2-5, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) to Reliant Stadium for a matchup against the Houston Cougars (6-1, 3-0). USF hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in 12 straight quarters and only has six, a national low, all season.

“For us, we’d love to have Andrew Luck, but we’re just looking for a little luck,’’ Taggart said. “We’d like to get there. Just a little bit. Not the whole Andrew, but just a little bit.’’

Seeking luck and pluck, Taggart has turned to true freshman Mike White, 6-foot-4, 186 pounds, his fourth starting quarterback in eight games.

By all accounts, White is a feisty leader and tireless worker with a big arm. Considering he’s only 10 months removed from leading Fort Lauderdale University School to the Class 3A state championship, he must also be a quick study.

Taggart doesn’t seem worried about the prospect of starting an 18-year-old at quarterback.

Houston coach Tony Levine isn’t concerned, either. Since losing established junior David Piland to a series of concussions, the Cougars have gone with their own true freshman, former Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback John O’Korn, a former USF recruiting target. In seven games, O’Korn has 19 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

“If you ask most coaches around the country, ‘Hey, do you want to start a true freshman QB?’ I don’t know that a bunch would jump up, raise their hand and say, ‘Absolutely!’ ” Levine said.

Piland’s concussions forced Levine’s decision.

Taggart is going with White because nothing else has worked. He has no other options to jump-start USF’s anemic offense.

But either way — due to year-round preparation, seven-on-seven competitions and more sophisticated high-school offenses — the prospect of starting a true freshman quarterback isn’t nearly as scary as it was a few decades ago.

This season alone, major college programs such as Penn State (Christian Hackenberg), California (Jared Goff) and Texas Tech (Davis Webb) have entrusted their seasons to true freshmen. In recent years, USC’s Matt Barkley, Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III distinguished themselves in the first year.

Florida State hasn’t started a true freshman quarterback since Chip Ferguson in 1985. Two years ago, injuries forced Florida to start Jacoby Brissett at No. 1-ranked LSU with predictable results, a 41-11 loss.

But in 2003, the Gators turned to Chris Leak, who led UF to the largest comeback in school history during his first start, coming from 18 points down to defeat Kentucky. Leak also guided victories against nationally ranked LSU, Arkansas and Georgia that season.

Now, USF’s Mike White, for better or worse, can add to the narrative. Will Taggart plan to start White for the rest of the season? “My plan is to find a guy to get us going,’’ said Taggart, whose offense should be aided by the return of leading rusher Marcus Shaw, out since Oct. 5 with a hamstring injury. “We’re just trying to find some answers. Hopefully, Mike can give us some of those answers.

“We know he’s going to make some mistakes here and there. I’m fine if they’re honest mistakes, going all-out, being smart. We’re not looking for Mike to win the game for us. We’re looking for him to take care of the ball and manage the game, help his teammates win the ballgame for us.’’

Already, White’s work ethic has impressed Taggart, who noticed his late-night film study. White’s arm strength, displayed intermittently during scout-team practice reps, also was duly noted.

“He can sling it,’’ USF junior offensive tackle Darrell Williams said.

“When we did scrimmages with the young guys, it was almost like sometimes Mike was a man among boys out there,’’ USF offensive coordinator Walt Wells said. “That’s when we first started realizing, ‘Hey, he might be a guy who can come into the fold this year.’ ”

Now White has his chance.

The script might seem appropriate for a Halloween movie — national television, road game, facing a defense that leads the nation with 27 takeaways. Frightening? Taggart and Wells are undaunted.

“He doesn’t need to be Joe Montana,’’ Wells said. “He just needs to be Mike White. If he can perform like we know he can, like we’ve seen in practice, we’re comfortable with that. Or else we wouldn’t be playing him.’’

Wells reiterated that times have changed in modern football. High school players already are well-versed in offensive schemes. Many have played on national television.

“It’s just not that big of a deal when they get out there,’’ Wells said. “There are the jitters of a big game, but once you get hit the first time, they go away. Hopefully for him, he’ll have jitters throughout the game because he hadn’t been getting hit.’’

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/31/2013 03:20 PM

More than a month has elapsed since the Bulls' last offensive touchdown, in the fourth quarter of the Sept. 28 loss to Miami. By contrast, Houston (6-1, 3-0 American Athletic) is the only Division I-A program to score in every quarter it has played (28) this season. Backtracking to 2012, the Cougars have scored in 35 consecutive quarters. … The Bulls, 6-0 all-time indoors, hope to extend that streak inside Reliant Stadium. On the flip side, they're 0-9 on ESPN-televised Thursday night games. … USF started four freshmen in Saturday's 34-3 loss to Louisville and played a season-high nine in the game. … Houston leads Division I-A with a plus-20 turnover margin. The Cougars have outscored their opposition 144-46 in the second half this year.

Watch out for … Bulls rushing leader Marcus Shaw (hamstring), who has been out since the first half against Cincinnati nearly four weeks ago, is expected to return. Houston's John O'Korn, among five freshman quarterbacks to start for an American Athletic Conference team this year, leads all true freshmen in Division I-A with 19 passing TDs and a 159.0 efficiency rating. Bulls coach Willie Taggart said he might use a defensive player both ways.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/31/2013 03:23 PM

The Houston Tigers will look to continue their strong start in the American Athletic Conference as they bring in the South Florida Bulls for a league skirmish at Reliant Stadium on Thursday.

Whether or not it had been impressive, the Bulls got off to a surprising start in league action with wins in their first two games. It was especially surprising considering the Bulls lost their first four contests overall. However, reality struck last weekend, as powerhouse Louisville posted a 34-3 rout of the Bulls. USF is just 2-5 overall this season, but at 2-1 in league play, still within striking distance of the conference leaders.

One of those conference leaders is Houston. The Cougars have sprinted out to a 3-0 mark in AAC action, which has them tied with UCF for the top spot in the league. Houston hasn't just been beating up on conference rivals, as they are 6-1 overall with the single setback coming by just a single point. Houston will really get a chance to prove its mettle in the weeks to come as the next two games are road games against UCF and Louisville.

This will be just the third all-time meeting between these teams. South Florida has won each of the previous two matchups, including a 32-14 triumph during the last one in 2002.It is no secret as to what has ailed the Bulls this season. USF has been atrocious on offense, ranking a distant 10th in the AAC in total offense (240.6 ppg), while scoring a paltry 14.3 points per game. Each of those marks is among the 10 worst in the country.

In the loss to Louisville, the Bulls reached new lows as they managed a season-low in points, while amassing just 133 yards of total offense. The Bulls also had just 39 plays, averaging 3.9 yards per snap.

The Bulls especially missed Marcus Shaw. The Bulls' leading rusher (575 yards) has been the only productive player on the offensive side of the ball, but he was kept out of the game with a hamstring issue. The injury still has him listed as questionable for Thursday's game. Having him back would be critical, considering Shaw is only player in the conference averaging more than 100 yards per game.

The quarterback play for USF is not that appealing. Bobby Eveld (38-of-96, 455 yards, two TDs, two INTs), Steven Bench (26-of-64, 392 yards, two TDs, three INTs) and Matt Floyd (9-of-20, 72 yards, two INTs) have all seen time but none has shown much promise.

With no quarterback separating himself, the receivers have put up paltry numbers. Andre Davis (20 receptions, 277 yards, TD) is the only player on the team averaging more than 20 yards per game and one of just two to have double-digit receptions this year.

The loss to Louisville was a big step back for USF on defense. However, each week the Bulls have seen deteriorating results on that side of the ball, as they are just a middle of the pack of the AAC. USF allows 30.7 points and 378.3 yards per game. Still, DeDe Lattimore (60 tackles, five TFL, two sacks, INT) has been one of the more versatile defenders in the league.

The USF defense faces another stiff test against Houston. The Cougars are leading the conference in total offense (496.7 ypg), while scoring an impressive 42 points per game. In a 49-14 win over Rutgers last weekend, the offense was running on all cylinders, rolling up 611 yards.

John O'Korn has been perfect for the Houston offense, completing 63.2 percent of his pass attempts for 1,858 yards and 19 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Against Rutgers, O'Korn had his best effort of the season, throwing for 364 yards and five scores on 24-of-30 passing. Both his yardage and touchdown totals were career-highs. O'Korn has thrown for 300 yards in three of the last four games.Having skilled players on the edge has been important as well for the Cougars.

Deontay Greenberry (58 yards, 842 yards, eight TDs) looks well on his way to getting a spot on one of the all-conference squads, while Daniel Spencer (31 receptions, 543 yards, five TDs) could be a primary option on other rosters. The pair each had more than 100 yards last week, marking the second straight week the Cougars had a pair of 100-yard receivers.

Although not relied on as heavily, the running game for the Cougars has also been effective. Ryan Jackson (477 yards, four TDs) is the leading rusher. Kenneth Farrow (291 yards, three TDs) and Greg Ward (179 yards, two TDs) are each capable as well.

Houston has done a good job of stopping teams from scoring. The Cougars have a deficit of nearly six minutes per game in time of possession and are allowing 439.7 yards per game, Still, they rank fourth in scoring defense (22.3 ppg) among AAC teams. Creating miscues is the key, as the Cougars have forced an league-leading 27 turnovers.

Even though USF has two wins in league play it is not a serious contender for the AAC crown. Houston, on the other hand, most certainly is. With O'Korn, Greenberry and Spencer piling up the yards, and the defense capitalizing on any mistake, the Cougars will once again post a victory.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/31/2013 03:25 PM

USF: THREE KEYS TO VICTORY


AVOID TURNOVERS:
The statistic is unreal — and practically unheard of. In seven games, USF has six offensive touchdowns. Meanwhile, USF’s opponents have scored seven defensive touchdowns off turnovers. Protecting the ball takes on new importance tonight when the Bulls start true freshman quarterback Mike White. Houston leads the nation in takeaways (27). If USF reverts to giveaway mode, um, we’ve seen that movie a few times this season. It doesn’t end well.


BLOCK AND CATCH:
Of course, much attention is given to White, USF’s fourth starting quarterback this season, and the running game, which would be aided by the return of senior RB Marcus Shaw, who hasn’t played since his hamstring injury on Oct. 5. But the October offensive woes can be traced to inconsistency on the offensive line, which must protect White tonight, and an almost complete vanishing act at wide receiver, where we have rarely noticed playmaking ability and separation from defenders. White and Shaw need help.

PLAY WITH EFFICIENCY:
Barring a stunning turnaround, USF’s offense won’t have a plethora of opportunities. But when the chances occur, the Bulls absolutely must take advantage. Against Louisville, USF wasted its biggest moments. Back-to-back 15-yard penalties set up USF at Louisville’s 30-yard line, where it promptly lost two yards in three plays, settling for a field-goal attempt. The Bulls’ most promising drive reached Louisville’s 18, where freshman RB Darius Tice lost a fumble. When (if?) the Bulls reach the red zone, they must cash in, being bold when necessary and not settling for field goals.


KEY MATCHUP

USF front seven vs. Houston offensive line:
In the last three games, USF’s defense has lived in the opposing backfield, producing nine sacks and 31 tackles for a loss. Senior DT Luke Sager and MLB DeDe Lattimore have been consistently disruptive, while DLs Ryne Giddins and Aaron Lynch also have enjoyed big moments. Cougars true freshman QB John O’Korn, not particularly mobile, is dangerous when given ample time to throw, so it’s up to the Bulls to make him feel uncomfortable while going up against Houston’s veteran offensive line.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13293 Followers:19
10/31/2013 07:04 PM

Taking the South Florida Bulls +19, GL!

Cole

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0