Preview: Syracuse vs USF

This is a critical game for the Bulls, another road win will bring them a step closer to winning the Big East. While a loss would most likely end all chances of a championship. Read on for a preview of this week's matchup.

South Florida (4-3) @ Syracuse (1-7)

South Florida
The Bulls traveled to New Jersey and beat Rutgers 45-31 for a huge road win. South Florida had not played in nearly a month and they still find themselves in the hunt for the Big East Championship. Running back Andre Hall rushed for 168 yards and three scores and the South Florida defense came up with two huge plays. Johnnie Jones returned an interception 32 yards for a score and Terrence Royal returned a fumble 11 yards for a TD. The Bulls jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back.

Quarterback Pat Julmiste had a solid game and didn't make any big mistakes. He was 13/31 for 135 passing yards. He also rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown. Amarri Jackson stepped up at wide receiver and caught seven passes for 68 yards. South Florida allowed 398 total yards and 31 points from Rutgers but they made the big plays when they needed them.

For the season Julmiste is 80/151 for 863 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also rushed for 328 yards and three TDs, which is second on the team. Hall leads the team in rushing with 791 yards (5 yards per carry) and nine scores. That's second in the Big East behind Michael Bush from Louisville. Jackson is the leading receiver now with 16 receptions for 189 yards. Johnny Peyton has 14 receptions for 143 yards.

Syracuse
Since beating Buffalo in week two of the season the Orangeman have now lost six games in a row, including four straight conference losses to UConn, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Syracuse is last in the Big East in total offense (265.8), last in scoring offense (15.6) and they give up 24 points per game. They are also last in turnover margin (-2) and have committed the must turnovers (20) in the Big East. The Orangemen did not play last week.

Quarterback Perry Patterson is 97/196 for 1,120 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. Running back Damien Rhodes has rushed for 684 yards and seven touchdowns, which is 5th in the Big East. Wide receiver Timothy Lane leads the team in receptions with 23 for 310 yards and one score. Rhodes is second with 21 receptions for 265 yards.

Defensively, Syracuse has shown improvement in just about all areas under first year head coach Greg Robinson. Kelvin Smith (62) leads the team in tackles while Ryan LaCasse leads the team in sacks (7).

The Matchup
It's the last home game for 21 Syracuse seniors in the Carrier Dome and the first time ever the Orangemen and Bulls will ever play each other this Saturday. Syracuse will also honor three former standouts who wore jersey number 44 – Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. The Carrier Dome should be rockin', at least early in this game.

In order to keep their Big East title hopes alive and a birth in a BCS Bowl South Florida must continue to keep pace with West Virginia. That means that the Bulls have to win on the road and the Carrier Dome is a very tough place to play because it can get so loud.

Running back Andre Hall will be the focal point and the Bulls must start like gang busters once again like they did against Rutgers. That means lots of Hall. But the strength of this Syracuse team in on defense. Despite the improvement of the Orangemen on defense, they are still last in the Big East in rushing defense (171.0). USF will want to spread them out and pound the football with Hall. That would help take the crowd out of the game, especially early.

The South Florida defense is better than what they showed against the Scarlet Knights. Syracuse is struggling offensively and must find a way to keep this game close going into the fourth quarter. Syracuse is last in the Big East in total offense (265.8). Rhodes has to have a big game running the football against the Bulls defense. That will also take some pressure off of Patterson at QB.

As we all know it can be very tough to win in the Carrier Dome and the Orangemen must force the Bulls into mistakes and turnovers, which they have been prone to do on the road.

Stat of the week - In the three Bulls losses, all on the road, USF have committed 10 turnovers. In their four wins, South Florida has given up only three turnovers.

Big East Standings


West Virginia 4-0, 7-1
South Florida 2-1, 4-3
Rutgers 3-2, 6-3
Pittsburgh 3-2, 4-5
Louisville 2-2, 6-2
Cincinnati 2-2, 4-4
Connecticut 1-3, 4-4
Syracuse 0-5, 1-7

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