Memphis (2-6) at South Florida (2-6)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Raymond James Stadium (65,857) -- Tampa, Florida.
Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Memphis 2-4, USF 1-4. Away Record: Memphis
0-2, USF 1-2. Neutral Record: Memphis 0-0, USF 0-0. Conference Record: Memphis
0-4, USF 2-2. Series Record: South Florida leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: After failing in their first four tries, the Memphis Tigers will
once again attempt to attain their first American Athletic Conference victory
as they take on the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium.
Memphis stepped out of league play last week and picked up a much needed,
21-6, win over FCS foe Tennessee-Martin to snap a four-game losing streak. The
Tigers' only positive outcome against an FBS opponent came on Sept. 21 when
they downed Arkansas State by 24 points. Coach Justin Fuente's squad picked up
only a single decision through its first nine games last season before it
reeled off three-consecutive victories to finish 4-8 overall. His second
season at the helm of the program has not been much better as it has compiled
a 2-6 record to this point. The Tigers have been competitive despite the lack
of wins. They have been outscored by an average of only 8.5 points per game in
The Bulls are also 2-6 entering Saturday despite owning a 2-2 mark in league
play. Coach Willie Taggart is in his first year in Tampa after compiling a
16-21 record in three seasons at Western Kentucky. Taggart went 2-10 in his
inaugural year with the Hilltoppers, who he then led to the biggest turnaround
in Sun Belt Conference history in 2011 before an appearance in the 2012 Little
Caesars Bowl. It appeared that type of improvement was taking place at his new
school this season when USF notched back-to-back wins over Cincinnati and
Connecticut, but it has suffered consecutive losses to Louisville (34-3) and
Houston (35-23) since the brief winning streak.
This will be the sixth meeting in history between these schools. The Bulls are
leading the all-time series 3-2 thanks to their 41-14 rout of Memphis in the
2008 St. Petersburg Bowl.
The Tigers' lack of success this season has primarily been due to their
struggles on the offensive side of the ball. They are netting the third fewest
points per game in the conference at 20.4 and are also the eighth most
productive unit in terms of total yards of offense with just 341.5 ypg.
Although last season's starter and former Texas Tech transfer Jacob Karam has
been on the active roster all season, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound redshirt
freshman Paxton Lynch has been under center for Memphis in 2013. Lynch has
shown flashes of potential, but has been ineffective overall with only 1,522
yards and six touchdowns against seven interceptions. While the rookie
quarterback has been able to connect on 60.3 percent of his throws, his
average of 10.2 yards per completion is the lowest among the AAC's regular
starting signal callers.
In last week's win over UTM, Lynch was steady as he finished 15-of-22 passing,
for 189 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Sam Craft led the Tigers
with 83 receiving yards on three catches. Joe Craig has managed to reel in a
team-high 31 receptions, however he is hardly a big play threat due to his
average of 9.2 yards per catch. Senior tailback Brandon Hayes is the team's
consistent workhorse as he ranks second in the AAC in both carries (132) and
rushing yards (625).
Memphis has been able to keep its opponents from running off to lopsided
victories due to its strong defensive play. It is allowing only 21.9 points
and ranks 16th nationally in total defense with an allowance of 338.6 ypg.
Junior cornerback Bobby McCain has five takeaways in six games played this
season. In last week's win over UT Martin, McCain registered a pick to end the
Skyhawks? final possession of the game with just over a minute left in
This matchup will most likely be a low-scoring affair as the Bulls have the
lowest scoring average in the AAC at 15.4 ppg and are third to last among FBS
schools with only 256 total ypg. Only eight of the squad's 12 TDs have come
courtesy of the offensive unit. USF set a new season-high in its most recent
outing with 364 yards of total offense.
The Bulls have not had consistency at the quarterback position, as four
different players have made an appearance under center. That may change after
last week as true freshman Mike White delivered the best passing performance
USF has seen in 2013, completing 26-of-41 attempts for 311 yards and a pair of
scores. The 6-4 freshman set a season-high with completions to 10 different
targets before he was picked off on his final throw of the game. Tight end
Mike McFarland caught both scoring passes, while Andre Davis finished with a
season-high 134 yards on nine receptions.
Senior tailback Marcus Shaw is pacing the conference in rushing average with
97.7 ypg and is producing 5.6 yards per touch. Although USF had its strongest
offensive performance of the season, Shaw did not experience his usual success
against Houston as he was limited to only 34 yards on 18 carries.
The Bulls' defense held its own against Houston, which is one of the top
offenses in the league. The Cougars tallied only 388 total yards and committed
a pair of turnovers. USF came up with one of the takeaways in the red zone as
Matt Joyce forced a fumble that freshman Johnny Ward recovered in the Bulls'
own end zone for a touchback. In addition to jarring the ball loose to prevent
a score, Joyce registered a team-best nine tackles including 1.5 TFL. DeDe
Lattimore is pacing the defensive unit with 64 total stops this season. He and
Ryne Giddins have combined for 33.5 sacks during their careers.
If White can duplicate his performance from his debut as a starter, USF should
be able to fend off the Tigers, who are clearly overmatched in their first
year in a major conference. Memphis will be a much tougher team to move the
ball against, but out-dueling Lynch is not an insurmountable task.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 20, Memphis 17
11/14 15:05:41 ET