FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Stadium (32,000) — Dallas, Texas.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: USF 2-4, SMU 0-4. Away Record: USF 1-2, SMU
0-4. Neutral Record: USF 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: USF 2-3, SMU 0-3.
Series Record: South Florida leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The South Florida Bulls get back to work on Saturday night, as
they return from a bye to take on the winless SMU Mustangs in American
Athletic Conference action at Ford Stadium.
Following back-to-back losses to Cincinnati (34-17) and Houston (27-3), the
Bulls were idle last weekend. Now they face a three-game stretch beginning
against SMU, which will determine their postseason fate. USF is currently 3-6
overall and will need to win out to secure a bowl berth.
SMU has no chance at the postseason, with losses in all eight of its games
this season. The Mustangs were competitive at least last weekend against
Tulsa, falling in a 38-28 final on the road.
Last season’s meeting was the first ever between these two squads, and it did
not feature many highlights. Each team had less than 300 total yards and three
different extra point attempts failed. SMU pulled out a 16-6 decision.
USF is one of three teams in the AAC to be averaging less than 300 yards per
game (298). The Bulls have found scoring to be a real challenge as well,
posting only 19.1 points per game. They maintained their standing as one of
the conference’s worst offensive teams against Houston, tallying only 222
yards and 13 first downs. Their performance on the ground was especially bad,
with the team totaling 76 yards on 29 carries.
Steven Bench started the Houston game at quarterback. He and Mike White have
each had their chances this season. Bench has thrown for 466 yards and two
touchdowns, which is the same as his interception total. White has completed
only 48.8 percent of his pass attempts for 1,182 yards, six touchdowns and
seven interceptions. Bench only had 147 yards on 12-of-15 passing against the
The receiving corps has not gotten much work with the uncertainty and lack of
performance coming from under center. Rodney Adams (21 receptions, 315 yards,
two TDs) leads the team in receptions, while Andre Davis (20 receptions, 416
yards, five TDs) is the most dangerous threat, averaging more than 20 yards
Usually Marlon Mack is an effective rusher for the Bulls. He has tallied 828
yards and eight touchdowns on 158 carries this season, averaging 92 yards per
game. He was bottled up by Houston’s defense, however, finishing with only 47
yards and averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He has averaged 5.2 yards per carry
overall this season.
In terms of defensive success, the Bulls are near the middle of the pack in
the AAC. They rank eighth in both total defense (423.9 ypg) and points allowed
(29.3 ppg). They are fifth in sacks (18), led by Reshard Cliett with five.
For all its weaknesses, USF has been nowhere near as bad as SMU this season.
The Mustangs are dead last in the AAC in total offense (276.3 ypg), and they
are the only team in the country scoring fewer than 10 points per game.
However, they finally showed some power against Tulsa, finishing with a
season-high 464 yard. They had not reached the 400-yard mark in the previous
Matt Davis made his first start of the season against Tulsa and did a decent
job, completing 21-of-32 pass attempts for 212 yards and a touchdown, but he
was picked off twice. The starting gig seems to be his, as Garrett Krstich
never really produced at a high level as the starter.
Davis’ work on the ground also makes him a strong candidate to finish out the
season under center. He racked up 181 yards and two touchdowns against Tulsa
and is actually leading the team in rushing yards (259) despite having a
negative rushing total in the first five games. Prescott Line (147 yards, two
TDs) is the top running back.
Der’rikk Thompson (28 receptions, 216 yards, TD) and Darius Joseph (34
receptions, 227 yards, two TDs) are talented but have been underutilized.
Thompson had his best game of the season against Tulsa, finishing with a
campaign-best 84 yards on four receptions, while recording his first touchdown
catch of the season.
It is not just the offense that has been disastrous for SMU. No other team in
the country is allowing more yards per game than the Mustangs (547), who also
are last in the nation in scoring defense (46.8 ppg).
The Mustangs finally showed some life against Tulsa thanks to Davis’
playmaking abilities. While the defense still has a long way to go, SMU has a
better chance than most weeks at home against USF. However, if Mack gets back
in gear, the Bulls won’t go down quietly.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 21, SMU 17