The underdog is 7-2 ATS in this series and these former Big East Conference rivals have met every year since 2005, with the largest margin of victory being just seven points. South Florida is coming off a miserable 2-10 campaign in 2013, which was the worst season in the program’s seventeen-year history. The Bulls have only won four of their last 25 games and one of their last nine contests, with their only win coming against FCS opponent Western Carolina. I should also mention that despite beating Western Carolina in Week One, the Bulls were outstatted in that contest. Let’s also note that South Florida is 3-12 ATS at home, including a woeful 0-11 ATS as a home favorite.
South Florida takes the field with a one-dimensional offense due to the ineptitude of starting quarterback Mike White, who has only completed 32.6% of his pass attempts. The Bulls are averaging 23.3 points per game on 4.6 yards per rush play, 5.4 yards per pass play and 5.0 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.2 yards per carry, 6.8 yards per pass attempt and 5.9 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad. Overall, the Bulls are 0.6 yards per rush attempt, 1.4 yards per pass attempt and 0.9 yards per play worse than average offensively this season. Adding to the team’s woes in the fact that the Bulls have only converted 34% of their third down opportunities.
This is a good matchup for Connecticut in that the Huskies possess a very good run defense that is allowing 3.6 yards per rush play to teams that would combine to average 4.1 yards per carry. Being 0.5 yards per rush attempt better than average defensively gives the Huskies an overwhelming 1.1 yards per rush play advantage defensively in this game. Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco, who served as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator the previous four years and was the Broyles Award winner in 2012, has been pleased with the way his stop unit has performed.
“The defense, playing basically the same system they played in week one, looked nothing like it looked in week one. I’m proud of the way that they played today,” Diaco said following last week’s 38-21 loss to Boise State. In fact, the Huskies held Boise State to 245 yards below its season average in total offense, while also limiting running back Jay Ajayi to 113 yards under his season rushing average. With Connecticut stacking the box and forcing White to throw the ball, I don’t see the Bulls having much success moving the chains tonight.
I also don’t expect the Huskies to move the ball with ease tonight against a subpar South Florida stop unit that is 0.3 yards per play worse than average (5.5 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.2 yards per play). The reason for why I believe Connecticut will struggle to move the ball is because its offense has been 1.4 yards per play worse than average this season (4.1 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.5 yards per play). Based on how both teams have performed this season, the Bulls possess a 1.1 yards per play advantage on the defensive side of the ball.
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