FACTS & STATS: Site: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,008) — Memphis,
Tennessee. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: South Florida 2-4, Memphis 3-1.
Away Record: South Florida 2-2, Memphis 4-2. Neutral Record: South Florida
0-0, Memphis 0-0. Conference Record: South Florida 3-3, Memphis 5-1. Series
Record: Series is tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: Seeking to extend a four-game win streak, the Memphis Tigers will
host the South Florida Bulls in an American Athletic Conference battle at
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Saturday.
USF put a stop to a two-game losing skid when the team traveled to Dallas and
defeated SMU by a narrow 14-13 margin. With two games remaining, South Florida
doesn’t have much hope for a postseason bid.
Memphis, on the other hand, is bowl eligible, and will be looking to help
improve its resume with a contest this weekend against the struggling Bulls.
The Tigers easily handled Tulane last weekend, 38-7, for the team’s fourth
These new conference rivals have only met six times on the field in their
program histories, and the all-time series between the sides is deadlocked at
3-3. They met last season in Tampa, with Memphis coming away with the 23-10
South Florida has really struggled offensively in the last few weeks, even
against an SMU squad ranked at or near the bottom of every major statistical
category in the FBS. It was a solid game for quarterback Mike White, however,
as the signal caller completed 9-of-16 passing for 106 yards and two
touchdowns. In nine games played this season, White has thrown for 1,288 yards
and eight touchdowns, but against seven interceptions.
There’s been one USF receiver that has consistently put up numbers when
needed, but Andre Davis has only played in six games this season. Still, Davis
leads his team with 26 receptions for 475 yards and six touchdowns, adding
another receiving score last weekend against the Mustangs.
Like Davis, the Bulls have one standout in the running game. Marlon Mack has
played in all 10 games for USF this season, and has gained 907 yards and
scored eight touchdowns on 175 carries. His 90.7 ypg average helps the Bulls
to a 119.5 rushing ypg mark as a unit, and helps the team score a pretty weak
Defense has been a big problem for USF this season, even in some of the team’s
wins. Going back to a win against Tulsa, the Bulls still allowed the Golden
Hurricane to rack up 30 points. In four games this season, opponents have
scored at least 30 points in a single contest. Challengers are averaging 27.7
ppg against USF, and have accrued an average of 406.8 offensive ypg in those
One things South Florida hasn’t been very adept at is forcing turnovers. The
Bulls have collected just five interceptions all season long, but do have 12
fumble recoveries. Nigel Harris has forced five fumbles this season – the only
player with more than one forced fumble for his squad, but Todd Chandler has a
team-best two recoveries. Jamie Byrd leads his program with 80 tackles on the
season, while Reshard Cliett’s five sacks is another team high.
Memphis has put together a solid season offensively, despite the loss of top
running back Doroland Dorceus earlier in the year to injury. Since Dorceus’
absence, Memphis has used a committee of back in his stead, led by a
combination of Brandon Hayes and quarterback Paxton Lynch. Hayes has gained
651 yards this season with five touchdowns (averages 72.3 ypg), while Lynch
has scored a team-best eight times on the ground.
He’s also proven to be an effective passer under center. The big redshirt
sophomore (6-foot-7) has played in all 10 games for the Tigers, throwing for
2,299 yards and 12 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Lynch is the
main reason Memphis enters the game with South Florida averaging 34.4 ppg and
423.0 offensive ypg.
Lynch has spread the wealth this season to a bevy of receivers. Mose Frazier
leads the team with 35 receptions, adding 377 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Alan Cross has a team-best three receiving scores, while Tevin Jones has a
Memphis-high 426 yards through the air. Nine players for the Tigers average
double-digit receiving yards per contest.
The Tigers have been red-hot defensively in the team’s four-game win streak,
allowing 20 points or fewer in each contest. Memphis leads the AAC this season
in scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 ppg to opponents. The team is third in
total defense in the league, surrendering 345.4 offensive ypg in 10 contests.
And with 13 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries, the Tigers are one of the
more feared teams in the AAC when it comes to forcing turnovers.
Tank Jakes has been a monster for the Tigers this season on defense, racking
up a team-high 64 tackles with 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and four forced
fumbles. He’s added a safety, two quarterback hurries and three pass breakups
to his resume.
The Tigers are simply too strong on both sides of the ball for South Florida
to handle. Lynch will be a typical game manager and slowly accumulate points
that can put the contest out of USF’s reach. And the Bulls don’t possess an
offense that can score at will against the tough Tigers’ defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 33, South Florida 17