Time – 3:30pm, Raymond James Stadium
TV/Radio – CBSSN, 99.5FM WTKW
Series – USF Leads 6-2
Last meeting – October 27th, 2012, Syracuse won 37-36
Strength vs Strength – The heart of the USF offense is their rushing attack, which ranks 28th in the country at over 210-yards per game. The Syracuse rush defense is 17th in the nation at 102-yards per contest. Those two units will clash on Saturday, and the winner may determine the outcome. If the Orange can shut down the Bulls' ground attack, it forces them into third and long situations and to throw the ball more frequently than they desire. If, however, South Florida can establish a successful run game, it allows them to stay unpredictable on offense and control time of possession.
Returning Stars – Syracuse gets two key offensive players back this week in quarterback Eric Dungey and h-back Ervin Philips. Dungey missed the last game against LSU while Philips has been out since the season opener. The return of both puts the Syracuse offense at full strength and gives them several weapons for the Bulls' defense to account for throughout the game. Dungey may only be a true freshman, but he has played very good football for the Orange and has limited turnovers.
Extra Rest – Syracuse is coming off of a bye week with players rested and healthy. That means extra prep time, recovering from the rigors of a season and a focused mindset entering the game this weekend. Players like Steve Ishmael, Rob Trudo and others were able to take the week off to recover from minor ailments while the team as a whole gets their fresh legs back.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Syracuse Offensive Line vs USF Defensive Line
If Syracuse is going to have success on offense, it starts up front. Not only to create lanes for their rushing attack, but protecting Eric Dungey in order to give him time to pick apart a vulnerable South Florida secondary. The Bull's front four is athletic, talented, long and quick. They will certainly test the Orange o-line. But the back end of the USF defense has significant flaws. The key for the Bulls is to get to Dungey as quickly as possible to mask their defensive weakness. If, however, Syracuse is able to hold up and give him time, the Orange could have a big day through the air.
Orange wins if …
They Play Smart Football – Syracuse has more advantages in this game. They have a better defense and more dynamic offensive weapons. If the Orange takes care of the football, does not hurt itself with critical mistakes and stays true to their identity, they should come away victorious in their first road contest of the season.
Bulls win if …
They Control the Line of Scrimmage – In order for South Florida to be successful, they have to run the ball well. That starts with the offensive line and opening running lanes for their talented backs. Defensively, if they can put pressure on Dungey and limit the effectiveness of the Syracuse ground game, they should be in good shape in this one.
WR Brisly Estime – Estime has elite speed and has made big plays in nearly every game this season. Returning to his home state, he will no doubt have a little extra juice to put on a show. Don't be surprised if he gets behind a porous secondary and makes a play on special teams.
Something to Prove
QB Quinton Flowers – There's no questioning Flowers as an athlete. He was a top-100 prospect for reason. It was, however, as a wide receiver. One of the only schools that wanted him as a quarterback was USF, and that went a long way towards landing his commitment. He continues to grow as a quarterback, but has not been asked to do a lot in terms of attacking down the field. If South Florida is to be successful against a good defense like Syracuse, he may have to open it up a bit and prove he can beat teams with his arm.
Looking to Build
RB Marlon Mack – Mack continues to run well and is South Florida's most consistent offensive weapon. He has speed, quickness, cutting ability and underrated power. A strong performance against a very good run defense will help him take the next step in his development.
Freshman to Watch
QB Eric Dungey – The Syracuse quarterback is coming back after missing the LSU game and then resting during the bye week. There should not be much of a rust factor there, but his ability to return to the level he was playing at prior to the injury suffered against Central Michigan is critical for the Orange offense. When he's right, Dungey can make all of the throws and hurt teams with his legs.