(15) Miami-Florida (3-0) at South Florida (0-3)
Saturday, September 28, 12:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 15th-ranked Hurricanes will try to collect their sixth consecutive victory when Miami-Florida takes on the South Florida Bulls in a non-conference matchup at Raymond James Stadium.
Al Golden's Hurricanes improved to 3-0 on the campaign and won their fifth game in a row dating back to last season as they completed a 77-7 rout of Savannah State in week four. The team broke the previous school record of 75 points set in 1954 in the process. This will be Miami's first road test of the season and also its final contest before its ACC opener versus Georgia Tech. Golden's squad has also defeated Florida Atlantic (34-6) and Florida (21-16).
South Florida fell to 0-3 under Willie Taggart in week three as it dropped a 28-10 home game to Florida Atlantic. The Bulls were embarrassed in a season- opening 53-21 loss to McNeese State before being defeated 21-6 at Michigan State. Taggart's team had a much needed week off to prepare for its encounter with the nationally-ranked Hurricanes.
It's about us getting better and seeing how good we can be," Taggart said before Tuesday's practice. It's never about our opponent. It's all about us. I do know if we play like we're capable of playing, we can play with anyone in the country. But if we don't play the way we are capable, we can lose to anybody in the country, too."
Miami's attack was still dominant last week even after quarterback Stephen Morris left the game due to a sprained ankle. Morris is listed as questionable for this game. He has thrown for 404 yards with four touchdowns to a pair of interceptions on 30-of-56 efficiency in 2013. Golden has a solid backup signal caller in Ryan Williams, who has completed 14-of-17 pass attempts for 216 yards and two scores in relief work.
"Ryan has been doing great in practice," said Golden on his second string quarterback. "He doesn't get that many opportunities, so it was a great opportunity for him. It came at a point in the game when we weren't pulling the reins back at that point. He had to run the whole offense and he did."
Allen Hurns is the main target in Miami's aerial attack with 11 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown. The senior wideout enters this week just 77 receiving yards shy of the 1,000-mark for his career. Tight end Clive Walford is also having a productive season so far with 108 yards seven receptions and a score. The Hurricanes' passing attack has flourished thanks to the strong play of the offensive line, which has allowed only two sacks through three games.
Miami's offensive line has also cleared rushing lanes for tailback Duke Johnson, who is second in the ACC with 168.3 all-purpose yards per game. Johnson has amassed a team-best 304 yards on the ground and became the first player in school history with at least three kickoff returns of 95 yards or longer thanks to his near touchdown on the opening play against Savannah State. The sophomore tailback has scored a touchdown in seven consecutive games dating back to last year.
The Hurricanes have played exceptionally well on the defensive side of the ball as well. They enter week five ranked first among FBS programs in turnover margin (2.7) and seventh in scoring defense (9.7 ppg). Miami is also fourth nationally in both pass efficiency defense and red zone defense. Golden's team has allowed only three touchdowns in as many games. Junior linebacker Denzel Perryman has registered a team-leading total of 20 tackles.
Despite Taggart's confidence in the Bulls, they have yet to show they are capable of producing against a top tier program like Miami. USF is averaging only 264.7 yards of total offense and 12.3 points per game, which place them 119th and 118th, respectively, among FBS programs.
The Bulls have one reliable player in Marcus Shaw, who piled up 159 yards on 22 carries in the loss to FAU. The senior halfback is gaining 132.7 rushing yards per game with an average of seven yards per carry. His season total of 398 yards on the ground is nearly equal to the Bulls' 405 passing yards.
USF's passing attack has already seen three different players try and fail under center. Bobby Eveld started last game, but was benched after fumbling on the second possession. Steven Bench took over but completed just 8-of-23 pass attempts for 129 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Including third stringer Matt Floyd, the Bulls' quarterbacks are completing only 37.4 percent of their attempts with three touchdowns to four interceptions.
The Bulls gave up 28 points to FAU in their last appearance, but half of the Owls' points came courtesy of interception returns for touchdowns. USF has been much more steady on the defensive side of the ball with only 305.7 yards allowed per game, but it can have trouble against the run and allowed 53 points to an FCS foe. Senior linebacker Devekeyan Lattimore has been USF's enforcer, recording 31 total tackles and an interception through the team's first three games.
Lattimore's interception was one of just four takeaways registered by the Bulls this season. Miami's ball-hawking secondary will have a field day if Taggart's quarterbacks stay consistent. USF's star tailback will not get anything easy against the Hurricanes' front line. Miami should coast to an easy win with or without its starting quarterback.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 40, South Florida 13
09/25 10:32:38 ET