The Pitt game obviously did not transpire exactly the way we had predicted and or hoped. However, in an effort to once again regain my Nostradamian prognostication skills, Bixler took it upon himself to climb the area's highest mountain in search of inner peace, serenity and of course and more importantly, a path that will lead him and our beloved Bearcats to greater glory.
It was an imperfect day on the summit of the Mount called Rumpke, a day befitting of the Bearcats and Bix's last performance and prediction respectively. The natural emissions from the Mount can have a hallucinogenic effect on mere mortals not equipped with a self contained breathing apparatus, however, prior to the ascent my Sherpa Adams assured me that because of the purpose of this trek the devices would not be necessary.
The Sherpa was as wrong as my prediction prior to the River City "Rivalry". That lesson coupled with my Mt. Rumpke "Awakening" (It took two hours of pure oxygen to resuscitate me) has hopefully now honed my prognostication skills to a razor's edge. It is now time to take a look at the challenge in West Central Florida that our Bearcats face against South Florida, which is about as confusing as the first part of this piece. The founding fathers of S. Florida apparently got the same Sherpa I did!
The Cats find themselves facing their biggest challenge of the year when they go against Coach Jim Leavitt's 6-2 Bulls of South Florida. The former #2 nationally ranked Bulls have plummeted to a #21 ranking after close road losses to Rutgers and UCONN. Leavitt's team will find Saturday as the defining moment of their season. Will they play like the team that beat Auburn at Auburn or will they come out looking and acting like the cast of the Night of the Living Dead as they did in the 1st half of the UCONN game?
I know what I would prefer, but the question remains. Will Bull's QB Mat Grothe carry his team to victory as he did against the likes of Auburn, North Carolina and West Virginia?
Or will he make the sophomoric mistakes displayed against Rutgers and UCONN? Do not get me wrong, Grothe is a true talent, he is a game changer and a team leader, but in light of his performance the last two games, he has got to be questioning himself and some of his decisions. He should also be questioning his choice of hairstyles.
You see Grothe sports an unflattering Mohawk which have started rumors that he has been auditioning for a supporting role in Universal Studios upcoming rendition of the Last of the Mohicans. These rumors have been dismissed by Leavitt as mostly unfounded!
The Bulls have very capable skill position players surrounding Grothe. Junior RB Benjamin Wilson, freshman Mike Ford and freshman Jamar Taylor are the Bulls version of a three headed monster. Freshman WR Carlton Mitchell, junior WR Taurus Johnson, sophomore WR Jessie Hester and senior WR Amarri Jackson make up Grothe's primary receiving corps. Grothe though is the key to the Bulls offense. The Bearcats must contain USF's leading rusher and supreme offensive threat if they hope to emerge from West Central Florida with a win over South Florida.
It would be a lot easier to predict this game if I knew just which Cincinnati Bearcat team was going to show up at Raymond James Stadium Saturday afternoon. Hopefully it will be the Bearcats that played USF last Oct. 22nd on a cold blustery Sunday evening.
That was the night the Bearcats brought the Bulls to the slaughter house on national TV. The night the Bulls were more concerned about getting back to the sugar sand beaches of the Gulf than putting forth the effort necessary for a win in front of a national audience.
The Bulls took a few hard hits early and often and by the end of the 1st quarter were looking for a warm cozy place to curl up with their Rug Rat pillows and Scoobie Doo blankies.
O.K., O.K. I‘ll come out with it……..They QUIT!!! Can history repeat itself? I've got a feeling the game time temperature won't be in the upper 30's with a wind chill that would make a Snowman bashful. So, we probably are just going to have to hang our hat on the re-emergence of the swarming Bearcat D that has been conspicuously absent in recent weeks.
Rutgers and UCONN have shown us the blue print on how to knock off USF. They ran the ball right at the Bulls and that proved to minimize the havoc that senior LB Ben Moffit and sophomore DE George Selvie can inflict upon an offense. The Bulls will be the most athletic team UC has faced so far this year. However, in saying that, they are also VERY young, especially at the skilled positions, and that is where I feel they are most susceptible. This will be a classic match up between a Jr/Sr laden team vs. "superior" young raw talent.
This is going to be one hell of a ballgame, gang. I can only hope that Coach Leavitt shows up running wind sprints prior to the game and does his Joe Cocker singing "You are so beautiful" distorted face imitation during the contest. I'm not kidding, I thought that cat was going to stroke out during the Rutgers game. His facial contortions remind me of when Martin Short's character morphed into the Cowboy in "Inner Space". That kind of sideline behavior in and of itself is enough to unnerve a young excitable team. Let's face it; they are the team with the pressure on them. Pressure can be a motivator or it can be a debilitator. These Bulls are young kids mired in a two loss spiral and unlike the Bearcats didn't get a week off to regroup. Don't underestimate the week off, 168 hours of rest, reflection and wind sprints can and will make your mind right!!!
Now without further adieu, let us get on to the prognostications…..
THE SKINNY…..Opening line was 4.5 but our friends the "PUBLIC" have bet it up to 5.5 points with the Bulls established as the favorites. The total has been set at 50.5
THE PLAY…..There are so many more questions than answers this week for both of these teams. This game would definitely be a "No Play" in the real world, but not here in Wager Land! We don't know how the Cats are going to perform after the week off, but I am pretty confident they are not going to be playing any worse. We don't know how the last two losses are going to affect the Bulls playing with pressure in front of a screaming home crowd. Will we see the stoic Leavitt who appeared at the UCONN game, or do we get the stark raving mad lunatic Leavitt who stalked the Rutgers sidelines? The bottom line for me is that these young Bulls have fallen farther and faster than the Cats have. If the Cats show up aggressive, mean, nasty and, forgive me for this, grab the Bulls by the Horns, they will stay easily inside the number and have a great chance of even upsetting the Bulls at home. Bix says take the Bearcats and the 5.5 and go over 50.5. Always remember "Gamblin' money's go no home" and Go Bearcats!!!
Bix's Picks USF Bulls
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