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FBS Football News
(14) South Florida (6-1) at Louisville (4-2)
Saturday, October 25th, 3:30 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked South Florida Bulls kick off a crucial two-game road trip this weekend, as they square off against the Louisville Cardinals in Big East play at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Bulls enter the game on a winning note, as they pounded Syracuse 45-13 this past weekend. It was a nice rebound by USF, which was knocked out of the Top 10 following a 26-21 loss to Pittsburgh in its prior outing. Now at 6-1 overall, the Bulls are set to play two important road games in a row against Louisville and Cincinnati. Winning away from home hasn't been a problem for USF this season, as it is a perfect 3-0 on the road.
As for Louisville, it improved to 3-2 at home following a 42-23 triumph over Middle Tennessee last weekend. The win was the team's second straight, lifting it to 4-2 overall on the year. The Cardinals now turn their focus back to the Big East, where they lost to UConn in their only outing thus far.
In terms of the all-time series, USF holds a 3-2 edge over Louisville, including a 55-17 victory in Tampa last season. The Cardinals, though, are 2-0 versus the Bulls at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Quarterback Matt Grothe passed for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth to lead USF in a lopsided win over Syracuse this past weekend. The dual-threat gunslinger paced the Bulls with 72 rushing yards on 10 carries, in addition to throwing for 248 yards on an efficient 19-of-26 tosses.
"I thought he did a very good job," said head coach Jim Leavitt of his star quarterback. "I thought the offensive staff and Greg (Gregory) did a great job of game planning."
Grothe has been outstanding all season long for the Bulls and he has completed 65.4 percent of his tosses for 1,552 yards with 12 touchdowns against a mere three interceptions. He is also dangerous with his legs, leading USF with 316 rushing yards and three scores. Spreading out the ball has also been a strength of Grothe's, as three different players have caught at least 22 passes this season. Overall, the Bulls are producing a healthy 35.4 ppg behind 194.6 rushing ypg and 214.6 passing ypg for the year.
On the defensive side of the ball, USF has also had its fare share of success, holding foes to only 17.6 ppg and a mere 260.4 total ypg. The unit has been especially tough against the run, limiting teams to just 77.3 ypg and only a 2.6 yard per carry average.
Last weekend, the Bulls were stout on defense once again, as they held Syracuse to just 230 total yards, including only 101 on the ground. The defense recorded four sacks and held Syracuse without a point in the second half. George Selvie, making his first start since late September, posted six tackles and a sack in the win. The All-American defensive end has been slowed by an ankle injury, but he still leads the team with three sacks for the year.
Louisville has done a good job in moving the ball this season and it comes into the game gaining 210.7 ypg on the ground and 194.5 ypg through the air. Last weekend, the Cardinals totaled 391 yards, including 247 on the ground, in a victory over Middle Tennessee. Victor Anderson ran for 161 yards and a score on 19 carries in the win, while Brock Bolen had 67 yards and three touchdowns on 20 totes. The duo have really emerged as serious threats in the backfield and they have combined for 979 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground this season.
The team's ability to run the ball successfully has helped compensate for some of the inconsistent play of quarterback Hunter Cantwell, who has thrown for 1,153 yards and eight touchdowns, but with eight interceptions as well. Last weekend, Cantwell was picked off twice, with one of those interceptions being taken back for a touchdown. He finished the game with 144 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-23 tosses, but his performance was overshadowed by the miscues. Doug Beaumont has been his primary target this season with 33 catches for 412 yards, although he has yet to score a touchdown through the air.
The Cardinals' defense has been the biggest surprise this season, as the unit has done an excellent job in holding foes to only 299.2 total ypg. The defense has been especially tough against the run, giving up only 86.3 ypg and three touchdowns on the ground.
Last weekend, Louisville held Middle Tennessee to only 306 total yards, including just 105 via the run in a winning effort. The defense also recorded a pair of sacks, giving it nine for the season. Chris Campa led the charge with seven stops and two TFLs, while Earl Heyman notched his team-best third sack of the year. Jon Dempsey added six tackles, giving him a club-high 34 stops for the season.
This is a big game for both programs, as neither can afford a second loss in league play. USF has a big advantage at quarterback, so expect Grothe to make the difference in this one, although it won't come easy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 31, Louisville 27
10/22 10:30:57 ET