Pitt-USF Preview

The Pittsburgh Panthers will host the South Florida Bulls on Saturday at 2:00 PM. at Heinz Field. The match-up is critical for the post season hope of both teams. USF enters the game with a record of (3-2, 1-0 Big East), Pittsburgh is (2-4, 1-1 Big East. As odd as it may sound Pitt is still alive in the race for the conference crown, and it desperately needs a win over the Bulls.

                                      Team Statistics


                         Pitt                                            USF


Offense            24.2  PPG                              26.6 PPG

Defense           20.3   PPG                              16.2 PPG

Off Rush         120.2 YPG                            231.2 YPG

Off Pass          230.5  YPG                           117.2 YPG

Off Total         350.7 YPG                          348.4 YPG

Def Rush        161.3 YPG                           124.4 YPG

Def Pass         154.3 YPG                           182.8 YPG

Def Total        315.7 YPG                           307.2 YPG

T/O Margin         -6                                          +2




Hidden Stats to Watch


USF has only allowed five sacks all season, which is tops in the conference. Pitt has allowed 20 which is dead last in the conference. Pitt has only converted 335 of the time on third downs. USF has the worst Red Zone offense in the conference. Pittsburgh has the second best defense in the red Zone in the conference. The payback factor, Pitt handed the Bulls a 43-14 drubbing last year at Raymond James Stadium.


Last Week


USF is coming off a bye week. The weekend prior to the bye, they were defeated 27-7 by Miami. The Bulls had five turnovers and only managed 174 yards of offense against the Hurricanes. Pitt won their first game against a D1-A opponent as they defeated a very young Cincinnati Bearcats squad 38-20 at Heinz Field.





Pat Julmiste leads the Bulls offense. This year he has completed 49 of 95 passes for 506 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. He holds a 51.6 completion percentage and a 99.7 passer rating.


Tyler Palko is second in the conference in total yardage. This season he has completed 107 of 198 passes for 1,366 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. He holds a 54% completion percentage and a 120.9 passer rating.


Analysis: Julmiste has struggled to be a consistent passer in this offense. Palko appears to be on the verge of breaking out of a horrible slump to start the season. He is now using his weapons and not trying to do everything himself.


Edge: Pitt



Running Back


USF features the second leading rusher in the conference in Andre Hall. This season hall has carried 103 times for 519 yards and six touchdowns. Hall is also a dangerous weapon out of the backfield as he has caught 11 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown.


Rashad Jennings had his break through game as he carried 11 times for 102 yards and a touchdown last week against Cincinnati. On the season he has carried 31 times for 172 yards and one touchdown. Ray Kirkley is the most experienced back for the Panthers he has 66 carries for 298 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers desperately need Larod Stephens to return to the lineup. The diminutive speedster ran for 98 yards against Nebraska, but suffered an ankle injury against Youngstown State and has missed the past two games.


Analysis: Hall is one of the top backs in the country and he is consistent. Pitt needs one of its backs to step up and be the go-to guy. It's imperative that the panthers get Stephens back.


Edge: USF



Wide Receiver


Former Pitt commit Johnny Peyton leads the Bulls with 11 catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns. They feature plenty of speed at the position, but have been unable to find a consistent target.


Greg Lee leads the conference in receptions per game. On the season he has caught 29 passes for 558 yards and four touchdowns. Derek Kinder and Darrell Strong have shown flashes of being capable options for the Panthers. Pitt features arguably the best tight end tandem in the conference with Erik Gill and Steve Buches.


Analysis: Fans would love to see Pitt use Strong more then they are. The same could be said for the tight ends. Peyton is a dangerous weapon for the Bulls, but got to give the edge to Greg Lee.


Edge: Pitt





Stephen Nicholas leads the Bulls with five sacks and 105 tackles for loss. Defensive end Terrence Royal has recorded 3.5 sacks. Linebacker Ben Moffitt is the leader of the Bulls defense, he has registered 23 solo tackles, 18 assists, 41 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and he has forced four fumbles. Louis Gachette leads the bulls with two interceptions.


Darrelle Revis is one of the top cover corners in the nation. Revis leads Pitt with three interceptions and nine passes defended. H.B. blades leads the panthers with 30 solo tackles, 32 assists, 65 total tackles.


Analysis: Pitt is showing some signs of life on defense. On the defensive line we give USF the advantage. At Linebacker we feel both teams are fairly even. In the secondary give the advantage to Pitt.


Edge: Even


Special Teams


Kyle Bronson has nailed all 14 of his PAT's and three of five field goals. Brandon baker leads the conference with a 45.5 yard average per punt. Chad Simpson leads the conference averaging 30.8 yards per kick return. Jackie Chambers leads the conference in punt returns with a 15.7 average. USF boasts one of the best kick coverage units in the conference.


Josh Cummings missed two games due to injury, but he has converted 8-11 FG's and five of five PAT's. Adam Graessle is third in the conference with an average of 42.9 yards per punt . Darrelle Revis is second in the conference in punt returns with an average of 14.6 yards per return. Terrell Allen and Larod Stephens are both very dangerous kick returners.


Analysis: This component of the game could decide the outcome. Both teams are very evenly matched in special teams. We give the nod to Pitt because of the open end zone and Pitt's familiarity with it.


Edge: Pitt



Prediction:  Pitt 27, USF 24

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