Miami won't be rolling out the welcome mat this Saturday, yet this is as close to home as it gets for the Bulls. It will be a homecoming-of-sorts for ten of South Florida's players– Jackie Chambers, Richard Clebert, Courtney Denson, Marc Dile, Pat Julmiste, Josh Julmiste, Brouce Mompremier, Chad Simpson, Drametrice Smith, and Patrick St. Louis all hail from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.
USF has its work cut out once again– another projected 21-point underdog. And while there may be some disadvantages for South Florida– lack of home field advantage, two top 10 teams in eight days, and the sheer intimidation factor of playing a national championship program who is virtually unbeaten in its home stadium– expect the Bulls to keep it close, and yes, possibly win. After last Saturday, no one should be doubting what South Florida can do.
How the Teams Stack Up…
This will be the fastest game to-date for the Bulls. Miami is a speed freak on both sides of the ball with an astounding depth chart. They've traditionally drawn upon their defense to carry the wins, but they need to start putting complete drives together on offense. The Canes have struggled inside the 20 this season, relying on kicker Joe Peattie to put numbers on the board. If there ever was a double-sided kicking personality, it'd be this guy. Going 0 for 2 at Florida State, 3 for 3 at Clemson, and 3 for 5 against Colorado, there's really no telling which kicker will show up on game day.
While the Hurricanes have struggled to put points on the board this season, they've still managed to rack up the yards with Sinorice Moss– he and Wright connected 5 times for 111 yards, including a 53 touchdown reception against Colorado. Last season Moss had 20 receptions for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Bulls offense gets its first true test since the season opener against Penn State. Miami is currently 7th in passing defense. Quarterback Pat Julmiste has gained confidence in command, turning to running back Andre "H2" Hall to get the ball moving downfield. Wide receiver Amarri Jackson had a breakthrough performance last weekend, running for two touchdowns and throwing one of his own– he'll be a force the Canes won't want to recon with if he's on top of his game.
Defensive standouts for Miami include strong safety and pre-season All-ACC selection Brandon Meriweather– he's already at 29 tackles this season, including a career-high 12 and an interception against Colorado. True freshman free safety Kenny Phillips's thrilling interception in triple overtime won the Clemson game, a game in which he recorded 10 tackles; he had 7 against Colorado last weekend.
Ben Moffitt/Stephen Nicholas vs. Kyle Wright
Miami's offensive line had a disastrous start to the season, allowing 14 sacks. The kinks in the line smoothed out a bit against Colorado– the line of Anthony Woschlager, Tyler McMeans, and Tony Tella didn't allow a single sack. Still, they'll need to step it up a notch when they face a daunting blitz from USF linebackers Ben Moffitt and Stephen Nicholas.
Andre Hall vs. Miami defense
Andre Hall has continued to carry the USF offense as its bread and butter. He's currently 9th in the nation rushing with 466 total yards and two 100-yard games. But if there's a team capable of bringing down Hall, it's this 20th ranked rushing defense. Defensive tackles Orien Harris and Baraka Atkins will be gunning for him.
Tyrone Moss vs. USF defense
Another Moss to watch out for. The Miami running back had a career best performance against Clemson with Quadtrine Hill paving the way. Moss rushed for 139 yards in 31 carries, and 3 touchdowns. He holds 956 yards in his career and 11 touchdowns. Hill had a touchdown of his own against Clemson too, and 4 catches for 30 yards.
Nicholas will be ready
It was an honorable week for the Bulls– USF received a slew of accolades after last weekend's Louisville. Ben Moffitt was honored as both the Bruno Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week and the Big East Defensive Player of the Week, Amarri Jackson was honored by the Big East as the Offensive Player of the Week, the team was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week, and the program also received votes in the AP Top 25 Poll for only the second time in its history.
Miami is 122-14 since 1985 in their beloved Orange Bowl Stadium. The Hurricanes held the longest NCAA home winning-steak at 58, which wasn't snapped until 1994.
USF has allowed just one sack in the first four games, which ties them with the University of Alabama-Birmingham for the national low (UAB has played only three games).
The Overall Verdict…
Since the birth of the program in 1997, the Bulls have longed for the national spotlight enjoyed by Florida's "Big 3." With all eyes on USF, the time is now if they wish to catapult their program to football greatness, earn a convincing spot on the polls, and gain some respect from those still considering Louisville a fluke win.
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