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FBS Football News
Pittsburgh (5-4) at South Florida (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 20th, 12:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Raymond James Stadium (41,441) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Pitt 4-1, USF 4-1. Away Record: Pitt 1-3, USF 2-2. Neutral Record: Pitt 0-0, USF 0-0. Conference Record: Pitt 3-1, USF 3-2. Series Record: Pittsburgh leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: The surging South Florida Bulls host the Pittsburgh Panthers in a key Big East Conference matchup this weekend at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Pitt currently sits atop the Big East standings at 3-1, but several teams trail the Panthers by just one game in the loss column. One of those teams is USF, which has rattled off three consecutive wins following an 0-2 start to Big East play. Most recently, the Bulls edged Louisville, 24-21, in overtime last weekend to become bowl eligible.
For the Panthers, they suffered their first league loss in a 30-28 decision at Connecticut last Thursday. The defeat ended a string of three straight victories and dropped Pitt to only 1-3 on the road.
As far as the all-time series goes, Pitt grabbed a 4-3 edge following a 41-14 trouncing of USF last season.
The Panthers gained 363 yards and scored four TDs, but three turnovers proved costly in a 30-28 setback at UConn last week. QB Tino Sunseri threw a pair of key picks for Pitt and that negated a solid effort that saw him pass for 220 yards and a TD on 20-of-28 attempts. The turnovers were a bit out of character for Sunseri, who had thrown just four INTs through the first eight games. Jon Baldwin is Sunseri's main target and he snared six balls for 95 yards and a TD in the loss to UConn. He now has 641 receiving yards and five scores on the season. The ground game was even working last week, as Dion Lewis rushed for 77 yards and two TDs, while Ray Graham went for 75 yards and a score. Graham, however, fumbled a kickoff which set up UConn's final score. Still, Graham leads the ground game with 760 yards and eight TDs, while Lewis follows with 556 yards and seven scores.
Defensively, the Panthers didn't do a particularly bad job against UConn considering they were placed in bad spots by the turnovers from their own offense. Pitt gave up just 349 total yards, though 249 on them did come on the ground. The inability to stop the run was something new for Pitt, which is limiting foes to just 111.0 rushing ypg for the season. Brandon Lindsey had a sack and forced fumble in the defeat, while Jarred Holley recorded his team- best fifth INT of the year. Lindsey and Jabaal Sheard have formed quite a pass rush tandem for Pitt this season, combining for 25.5 TFLs, 18 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
USF's Maikon Bonani missed a 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation, but redeemed himself by booting a 37-yarder in overtime for a 24-21 victory over Louisville last weekend. The Bulls' special teams played a big part in the win, as they received three field goals from Bonani and a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD by Lindsey Lamar. The strong play from the special teams helped overcome some offensive woes for USF, which managed just 259 total yards while going only 2-of-14 on third downs. Courtesy of a 67-yard burst, Demetri Murray led USF with 106 rushing yards. The Bulls gained 172 yards on the ground as a team and that is slightly above their season average of 151.9 rushing ypg. QB B.J. Daniels passed for 87 yards and a TD in the win and he did a nice job avoiding any INTs. The versatile QB, who has run for 240 yards and four scores, has struggled with turnovers this season, throwing 11 INTs against just nine TDs.
After allowing Louisville to tie the game with just over a minute left, USF's defense came up big in the overtime and stuffed the Cardinals on a fourth-and- one. The stop allowed the Bulls to win the game on their possession. USF gave up 328 total yards, right on its season average, to Louisville and also picked off a pair of passes. Jerrell Young had one of those picks, to go with six stops, while Sabbath Joseph posted seven tackles and two TFLs. Joseph has had a solid season that includes 36 tackles, six TFLs and three sacks.
The Bulls are on a roll right now and behind their solid defense and special teams, they should be able to edge Pitt this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 27, Pittsburgh 24
11/17 10:36:44 ET