College Football Pick
AAC play starts this weekend with an interesting Game between a team that has been lackluster in opening wins (USF) and a team that is trying to revive success with Randy Edsall as head coach (UConn). The news this week surrounding the Huskies was of Edsall appealing a ruling that said he improperly hired his son. If he can separate from the media, his team will have a chance to cover against what is supposed to be the best team in the conference. The Bulls were listed as -17 point road favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
South Florida had high expectations ahead of the season with an extremely favorable Schedule and one of the most potent quarterbacks in the country. Yet through two Games, new head coach Charlie Strong hasn’t gotten his team up for the task getting off to slow starts and failing to cover against two weaker teams (SJSU, Stony Brook). If that’s the case again, UConn will be ready to cover, which was the case last year when these teams met. The Huskes battled to a 42-27 loss and still covered by five points even with USF tacking on 21 points in the final quarter.
Per usual, Quinton Flowers did everything in that Game, rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns to go with two more TDs through the air. But while he did that, this team still struggled to Scoreconsistently, scoring half of their points in the final quarter. With UConn’s Game built around defense, that could be the case again in this matchup. Flowers remains a mediocre passer at best, completing 54.5% of his passes against two subpar defenses, while surprisingly only rushing for 137 yards in the first two Games. The Bulls will continue running the ball as much as possible with Flowers, Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson, but this may be the best defense they’ve seen.
Then again, the Huskies weren’t exactly stellar in their only Game, giving up 358 passing yards to Holy Cross, which is not great. If they repeat that performance, USF should reach 40-plus points again. As for UConn’s offense, there’s a debate at quarterback where David Pindell started last week and then was replaced by Bryant Shirreffs. After scoring seven points in the first two-plus quarters with Pindell, Shirreffs came in and scored three touchdowns in Four drives. Still, this was against Holy Cross, so there’s not much to take away from it.
But looking on the positive side for Connecticut, it’s not like USF’s defense has been good. This group had problems last season and Strong hasn’t been able to change them, giving up points to questionable offenses. UConn will probably run a ton through Nate Hopkins, who had 130 yards in the opener, and that could work. The Huskies ran for just 2.0 yards per carry in last year’s meeting and that was a main reason they didn’t win in the end.
Still, with UConn a 17-point underdog playing at home, it’ll be hard to trust USF simply because of its bad defense. This could go the same way as last year’s Game when USF scored plenty of points, but also gave up enough to get the Huskies a cover. Shirreffs threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns in that one and will be looking to hit those totals again.