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South Florida (4-4) at Syracuse (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 11th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (49,550) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: South Florida 3-1, Syracuse 4-1. Away Record: South Florida 1-3, Syracuse 1-4. Neutral Record: South Florida 0-0, Syracuse 0-0. Conference Record: South Florida 0-4, Syracuse 1-3. Series Record: South Florida leads, 5-1.
GAME NOTES: South Florida will try to snap a four-game losing streak on Friday, when it travels to meet the Syracuse Orange in a Big East clash between two struggling teams.
It has been a tale of two seasons for South Florida, which started the season hot and winners of the first four games. The last four games, with the exception of a 44-17 loss to Pittsburgh in late September, have been close losses for the Bulls, including last weekend's 20-17 overtime setback at Rutgers. South Florida blew a fourth quarter lead and missed a chip-shot field goal as time expired in the loss. The Bulls will return home for its final three games of the season following this weekends matchup, hosting Miami, Louisville and West Virginia.
Syracuse has lost two straight games since upsetting West Virginia at home three weeks ago. The Orange dropped a 28-21 slugfest to Connecticut last weekend, and now must find a way to win one of its final three games to become bowl eligible. That will be no easy task, considering the caliber of league teams remaining on the slate, including the desperate Bulls this weekend. Syracuse will host Cincinnati on November 26, followed by a road trip to Pittsburgh on December 3rd.
South Florida leads the all-time series with Syracuse, 5-1.
B.J. Daniels completed 14-of-34 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown last weekend, and must receive credit for orchestrating a drive down the field in the final minute to give South Florida a chance to win. But Daniel's only turnover at the night came on a tipped ball on a 3rd-and-eight call on the first play of overtime, all but ending South Florida's bid to win. Darrell Scott had a solid game at running back, rushing 19 times for 100 yards.
South Florida is second in the Big East in total offense (468.2), passing offense (266.8), and leads the league in rushing offense with 201.3 yards per game.
Scott and Daniels are to thank for that, ranking fifth and eighth in the Big East in rushing, respectively. Scott averages 76.3 and has scored five touchdowns this year, while Daniels has amassed 440 yards and four touchdowns on 92 carries. Demetrius Murray has also been a stable back for the Bulls, rushing 82 times for 346 yards and five touchdowns this season. He ranks 11th in the league in rushing.
Daniels is second in the Big East in total offense (308.3), and has thrown for 2,027 yards and 12 touchdowns against five interceptions this season. Sterling Griffin has been the best receiver on this team in 2011, averaging 5.7 catches per game for an average of 70.4 yards per game.
South Florida's defense played well against Rutgers, limiting the Scarlet Knights to 51 yards on 28 carries and forcing two turnovers. Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd came through down the stretch however, and overall completed 11-of-17 passes for 125 yard and a fourth quarter touchdown pass that knotted the score at 17.
The Bulls have the fourth rated defense in the Big East, yielding 344.7 yards per game. South Florida leads the country in tackles for loss per game with nine, and are second in the nation in sacks per game with 3.5. That kind of pressure has aided the unit in the takeaway department, where South Florida has created 21 turnovers this season. DeDe Lattimore and Ryne Giddins each have 4.5 sacks this season, and Lattimore is sixth in the Big East in tackles with 61.
Syracuse's offense made a name for itself with a barrage of fourth quarter comebacks earlier this season, but in the past two weeks the Orange haven't been able to get over the hump against Louisville and Connecticut. Last weekend against the Huskies, Ryan Nassib completed 24-of-39 passing for 275 yards and two touchdowns, but had two interceptions that proved costly. Alec Lemon caught nine passes for 157 yards and one touchdown to lead all receivers in the contest. The running game sputtered for Syracuse, picking up only 90 yards on 34 carries. Syracuse is fifth in the Big East in passing (223.1), total offense (339.4) and scoring offense (26.6).
Nassib is 50th in the country in passing efficiency (135.8), and has thrown for 1,960 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He has eclipsed 300-yard passing just once this season. Lemon has been the most consistent wide receiver, averaging 5.2 catches for 59 yards per game. Nick Provo has recorded 39 catches for 410 yards and six touchdowns this season.
The running game generated just 84 yards rushing against Louisville two weeks ago, and hasn't gained much traction down the stretch for the Orange. Syracuse averages 116.3 rushing yards per game, which is seventh in the Big East, Antwon Bailey continues to be a physical back who averages 88.7 yards per game. Bailey had rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games leading up to the Louisville contest, but has just 120 yards and 31 carries the last two weeks.
Connecticut pounded Syracuse with the run last weekend, rushing 47 times and throwing just 14 passes. The Orange held up pretty well against the assault, allowing just 198 total rushing yards, and forced five turnovers in the loss. The Syracuse defense has molded an aggressive identity this season, averaging a respectable 2.6 sacks and 6.8 tackles for loss for loss per game. Syracuse allows just 115.4 rushing yards per game, but is 102nd in the country in pass defense at 267.4 passing yards allowed per contest. Phillip Thomas has turned in an outstanding year for Syracuse thus far, ranking first in the Big East with six interceptions (including 50 return yards) and ranking sixth in the league in tackles with 68.
Syracuse showed promise two weeks ago in the win over West Virginia, but South Florida will be absolutely desperate for this win. The Bulls outplayed a quality Rutgers team last weekend, and with Daniels at the control, always seem to be in position to win. South Florida gets the edge in a shootout.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 35, Syracuse 31
11/09 11:00:05 ET