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FBS Football News
South Florida (7-4) at West Virginia (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 6th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Milan Puskar Stadium (60,000) -- Morgantown, West Virginia. Television:ESPN2. Home Record: USF 4-2, WVU 4-1. Away Record: USF 3-2, WVU 2-3. Neutral Record: USF 0-0, WVU 0-0. Conference Record: USF 2-4, WVU 4-2. Series Record: South Florida leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: In a game that was supposed to determine the Big East champion, the South Florida Bulls and West Virginia Mountaineers close out their regular season campaigns in Morgantown this weekend. These two programs were considered by many to be the favorites in the Big East prior to the season, but neither has a shot at winning the conference title, as that honor has already gone to Cincinnati. The Bulls' chances for a conference title were thwarted with a three-game losing streak that also knocked the program out of the Top 25. The team though, was able to put an end to that slide with a 17-13 victory over Connecticut on November 23rd. With the win, USF improved itself to 7-4 and a still disappointing 2-4 within the conference. As for WVU, it had a chance to at least earn a share of the Big East title until last weekend, when it was edged at Pittsburgh, 19-15. It was the second loss in three games by the Mountaineers, who dropped to 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the league. In terms of the all-time series, USF took a 2-1 lead over WVU following a 21-13 victory in last season's meeting.
Behind the play of quarterback Matt Grothe, the Bulls are averaging 401.2 total ypg, including 159.2 rushing ypg on the season. The dual-threat gunslinger has not only thrown for 2,486 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he has also rushed for a team-high 444 yards and three more scores. In a defensive battle in the team's last game, Grothe managed 51 yards on the ground and another 124 through the air in a 17-13 win over UConn. It may not seem like a great performance, but considering the team gained just 247 total yards in the game, it wasn't all that bad either. Jessie Hester and Taurus Johnson have been Grothe's top two options in the passing game and they have combined for 84 catches, 982 yards and eight scores on the season.
Defensively, the Bulls have been stout for a majority of the season, as they are holding their opponents to 21.2 ppg and a mere 292. total ypg. The unit has really clamped down against the run, 93.9 ypg, but hasn't come up with many turnovers, forcing only 16 on the year. In its last outing, USF put forth another solid effort on defense, limiting UConn to just 258 total yards, including only 119 through the air. The defense came up with one turnover and a pair of sacks in the 17-13 win. Tyrone McKenzie led the charge with 16 stops and three TLFs, while Kion Wilson posted 12 tackles. On the season, McKenzie paces USF with 94 tackles, including 11 for losses.
The Mountaineers, on offense, have had a majority of their success on the ground, gaining 224.3 ypg behind a 5.7 yard per carry average. Noel Devine leads the way with 1,138 yards and three scores, while quarterback Pat White has rushed for 879 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns. White has also been effective with his arm, passing for 17 scores against just six picks. Last week however, White completed just 15-of-28 tosses for 143 yards and two picks in a 19-15 loss to Pittsburgh. He however, did go for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground, helping compensate for Devine's mere 17 rushing yards. Jack Sanders didn't do much in the passing game last week, but he leads the team with 43 catches, 354 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
Much like USF, WVU's defense has been rather good for most of the season and is limiting foes to just 16.7 ppg and 322.7 total ypg. The unit has also had some success making big plays, forcing 23 turnovers and recording the same amount of sacks. Last week, the Mountaineers came up with a pair of sacks and three takeaways, but they allowed two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 19-15 loss to Pittsburgh. The defense ended up allowing 346 total yards in the game, with 190 of them coming on the ground. Ellis Lankster guided WVU in defeat with nine stops, while Mortty Ivy posted seven tackles. On the year, Ivy leads the team in tackles with 79 and he also has three interceptions to his name.
Both teams are solid on defense, but WVU has a little more potent of an offense and that should help it prevail in a close one this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 27, South Florida 24
12/03 10:41:58 ET