South Florida vs. West Virginia
Betting Line: West Virginia -10.5 o/u 48
Thursday night college football is a special thing. After a hard day at work, most sports fans excitedly await the start of the Game. Be it because they are a fan, or a bettor wagering on the Game, or both, these Games hold a special place in the week. This week we will witness two great Games. The one this article will cover is a Big East battle between the #25 West Virginia Mountaineers (4-1) and the South Florida Bulls (3-2). The last time these teams met resulted in a 30-19 triumph for the Bulls. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors for this Game.
The West Virginia Mountaineers are finally living up to the hype for the first time since Pat White and co won a BCS Bowl. They are the frontrunners to win the Big East. So far this year they have toppled Coastal Carolina, Marshall, Maryland, and UNLV. Their lone loss came against a stout SEC opponent in the undefeated LSU Tigers.
The Mountaineers have a dynamite RB in Noel Devine. The junior has incredible speed and is hard to tackle. He has 90 carries for 475 yards and 4 TDs this year. Expect him to make some noise in this Game. WRs Tavon Austin and Jock Sanders have combined for 4 TDs and 652 yards. The QB, Geno Smith, has completed 97 of 146 passes for 1,139 yards and 12 TDs. This offense has shown moxie by coming back from big deficits. They don’t quit, and they don’t give in. Expect them to get their fair share of points against the Bulls.
HC Bill Stewart has his Mountaineers playing good defense. They sacked the Maryland QB a whopping 8 times. In total they have 12 sacks this year. They will find it hard to get to mobile QB BJ Daniels in this Game. They are only giving up 225 yards of total offense on average. They have yet to play an explosive offense, so it’s tough to know how that number will hold up. The Bulls will be their best challenge so far in 2010.
South Florida is going places with Skip Holtz manning the ship. How long it will take them to get to the forefront is tough to predict. So far in 2010 they are 3-2 with losses to Florida, and Syracuse. They won Games against Florida Atlantic, Stony Brook, and Western Kentucky. Their last Game against Syracuse makes us wonder if they are ready for Big East play yet. They couldn’t beat Syracuse, the perennial cellar dweller of the conference.
The USF QB BJ Daniel’s isn’t doing enough of what he does best. That is running the ball. He has had only a single Game with over 50 yards in rushing and that came against Florida when he had 107 yards. He has passed for 684 yards and 4 TDs this year. He has to be a dual threat for this team to thrive. Senior RB Moise PlaNCher has 289 yards on 65 attempts and 4 TDs. The offensive line was strong against UF, allowing just one sack, but has allowed 11 in the Games following that effort. This offense has potential, but they have to get some steam built up they are ever going to live up to their full potential.
The Bulls defense has been rock solid recently. They have 11 sacks in their last two Games, are allowing only 301 yards/Game on the year. They are very good against the pass, but could perhaps use some work stopping the run. They will have their hands full trying to shut down RB Noel Devine.
Both of these squads returned several starters from a year ago, particularly on offense where they both returned 9. South Florida returned just 5 on the defense, but with the defense playing as good as it is and the rest of both of these teams largely intact, we know South Florida can compete here. It’s always tough to make a call when you have two teams that have played mostly no one. They each played one team of note, LSU and Florida. Both lost and West Virginia looked better losing than South Florida did.
We have this one as a fairly low scoring affair which is surprising. When you think West Virginia football, you think buckets of points. But we have a predicted final in the 24-14 range favoring West Virginia. So, not enough of a margin for us to commit to a play, but we’d lean towards South Florida +10.5 and Under the total of 43.