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San Jose

vs.

South Florida

College Football PIck

8/26/17

The run for an undefeated season for South Florida begins with this game on the first day of the college football season. The Bulls were listed as -20 point road favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the game at San Jose State.

To start the season on a good note with new head coach Charlie Strong, South Florida would be smart not to overlook this opponent, especially being played on the opposite side of the country. San Jose State only had four wins last year, but return 15 starters and put up plenty of good fights against quality competition last year from Utah to Boise State and Air Force.

The main reason this game is on a bigger stage for the opening day of games is that Quinton Flowers could slowly become a legitimate threat for the Heisman as the season moves along. In his senior season, Flowers has a chance to match what he did a year ago (24 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 1,530 rushing yards, 18 rushing TDs) and go undefeated with a favorable schedule. Flowers joined the national radar after leading his team to 35 points against Florida State early last year, and then carved through South Carolina for five total touchdowns in last year’s bowl win.

The only downside to Flowers is that he lost a lot of his teammates from a year ago with top RB Marlon Mack and top WR Rodney Adams both gone. D’Ernest Johnson will take over in the backfield, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants lead at receiver, so there’s at least some experience there to go with three returning starters on the line.  

The Spartans will undoubtedly have some issues dealing with Flowers after allowing 34.7 points per game a year ago. They return seven starters, but this is still a group that gave up at least 40 points to any decent offense. SJSU has a solid secondary, but that may not even come into play with Flowers and Johnson likely leading USF on the ground.

In order to cover, SJSU will have to score points, something that wasn't always the case last year. Sophomore quarterback Josh Love is set to be the starter for one of the only MWC teams not returning a starter under center. An inexperienced quarterback should be helped by an offensive line that returns everyone as well as tight end Josh Oliver. If the line can use that continuity and turn it into scoring, the Spartans should be a decent offensive team. With a new quarterback, they’ll likely run a bunch between Malik Roberson and Zamore Zigler.

But for USF, the thought is that its defense will take a step up this year, especially with Charlie Strong leading the troops. The Bulls return nine starters on defense with all four guys on the line. If they can turn into an average unit, that could be enough to go undefeated in 2017. This game should have plenty of points with USF’s defense being the main question.

South Florida can cover this game if the defense actually improves under Strong. Otherwise, expect a ton of points from both teams and a non-cover from USF, which is what happened in almost every win in 2016.

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Our model predicts a big South Florida win here by 28 points. Now, we are using last years data, but not much remains the same for these two teams this year. In fact, if either team figures to be in better shape, it would be South Florida who is loaded with returning starters, including the QB. South Florida -20.5

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