Ball State at South Florida
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/10/11 SITE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
SERIES: First meeting
RECORDS: Ball State 1-0; USF 1-0
POLLS: South Florida (No. 22 AP)
PREDICTION: USF 27-10
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Ball State: Avoid the big turnover. Notre Dame found out last week just how opportunistic USF can be. The emotion factor seems to be a wash with both teams coming off big wins for their respective programs with Ball State beating Indiana and the Bulls beating the Irish.
-- For South Florida: Don't let down. The Bulls obviously had an emotional high with the win at Notre Dame, but they have to get back to business now. USF's run defense looks to face a test from a Ball State attack that rushed for 210 yards against Indiana.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Ball State showed the ability to be a force on the ground in its 27-20 win Sept. 3 against Indiana. The Cardinals rushed for 210 yards, including 84 by true freshman Jahwan Edwards. QB Keith Wenning also had a big night passing. He was 23-of-29 passes for 173 yards and didn't have an interception.
The Cardinals' defensive front seven gave a good account of itself against Indiana. DE Ryan Hartke had four tackles, including one for loss, and DT Nathan Ollie had two sacks among his four stops against Indiana. LBs Travis Freeman and Aaron Morris combined for 19 tackles as the Cardinals allowed the Hoosiers only 103 yards on the ground.
The key for USF is to get the kind of efficient play out of QB B.J. Daniels that he gave the Bulls in the win over Notre Dame. Daniels threw for only 128 yards but avoided the critical turnover that plagued him last year. WRs Sterling Griffin and A.J. Love, both returning from injury, make the receiving corps a deeper and more talented unit.
The Bulls' defense bent but didn't break against Notre Dame, forcing turnovers to offset the 508 yards it gave up to the Irish. SS Jon Lejiste and LB Michael Lanaris led the unit with 10 tackles each, but LBs DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington were right behind with nine each. The linebacking corps is one of the best around, and the secondary looks solid despite the passing yardage given up.
Cardinals: Ball State returns 11 starters from a team that was only 4-8 last year. But the Cardinals got off to a good start with their second straight win over Indiana. ... Coach Pete Lembo is in his first year at Ball State after going 44-14 at Lehigh (2001-05) and 35-22 at Elon (2006-10). .Elon was 14-42 in the five years prior to his arrival. ... TB David Brown is giving up his career in football because of a persistent back injury that limited him to only a handful of practice sessions in spring practice and fall camp. He came into this season as a prime contender for the starting job. Ball State plans to keep him on scholarship until his scheduled graduation in May 2013. ... Ball State's experienced offensive line received high grades in the film room this week after dominating Indiana's front seven last week. The group includes seven players with a combined 95 starts. ... Kyle Hoke beat out Josh Howard for the starting FS job in the season-opener. Hoke is the nephew of former Ball State and current Michigan coach Brady Hoke. He made only two tackles, however, and Howard played a significant portion of the game, making seven stops.
Bulls: USF players and fans hardly were finished celebrating their win at Notre Dame when they got the news that former Tampa Bay Buc Lee Roy Selmon had died the day after the victory. Selmon, the school's athletic director from 2001-04, was instrumental in getting football started at USF in the 1990s when he was associated athletic director. He was only 56 and had suffered a stroke the day before the USF-Notre Dame game. ... If the Bulls can get to 4-0 by sweeping the homestand, it would mark the fourth time in the last five years they will have attained that mark. ... Like USF, Ball State, the Bulls' next opponent, committed no turnovers in winning its season-opener against Indiana. ... USF is playing Ball State for the first time, but the Bulls have played two other current MAC members. They are 1-0 against Bowling Green and 201 against Northern Illinois. ... Senior WR A.J. Love, in his first game back after sitting out 2010 with a knee injury, was in the starting lineup at Notre Dame and caught two passes for 26 yards. ...
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TBs Barrington Scott and Jahwan Edwards -- Both players made their debuts with the Cardinals in the opener and enjoyed success against Indiana. Edwards, a true freshman, ran for a game-high 84 yards on 16 carries. Scott, a sophomore who got the start, added 63 yards in 18 carries.
QB Keith Wenning -- The sophomore had one of the best performances of his career against the Hoosiers. He completed a career-high 23 passes in 29 attempts for 173 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for a career-best 61 yards while running the team's new no-huddle attack.
LB Aaron Morris -- He gave a strong account of his skills in his first game as a starter. He made nine tackles (second best for Ball State), including a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
FS Jerrell Young -- The senior garnered Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors after making key plays in the win at Notre Dame. His strip of Irish RB Jonas Green created the fumble that teammate Kayvon Webster returned for the first USF touchdown.
RB Darrell Scott -- The transfer from Colorado rushed for only 33 yards on 12 carries, but they all seemed to be in tough yardage situations. He adds power in the running game to complement RB Demetris Murray's speed.
WR Sterling Griffin -- In his first game after sitting out the 2010 season with an ankle injury, Griffin burned the Irish with eight catches for 75 yards. He and senior A.J. Love provide key elements missing from last year's offense.
LB Justin Cruz (foot, doubtful).
None to report.