AAC College Football Thursday Night Picks: Temple Owls at South Florida Bulls

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Temple at South Florida

Time: 7 PM CST, Thursday

Spread: USF -2

Total: 49.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The South Florida Bulls are 4-4 on the season but it has won three of its last four, inclusive of last week’s 45-20 win over Eastern Carolina. This week the Bulls head back home to host visiting Temple as 2-point favorites. The over/under is set at 49.5 points, and the game will kick-off 7 PM (CST) Thursday on ESPN.

USF

South Florida has fared well the past month, with victories over UConn, BYU, and Eastern Carolina, with one loss to the Navy Midshipmen two weeks ago. The Bulls have got it done with its rush attack and its defense. South Florida ranks No. 54 in the nation in rushing yards, with 180.4 per game, while its passing attack lingers far behind at just No. 110 (172.9 yards per game). The Bulls barely outscore its opponents in averaging 29.4 points per game but giving up 28.4, but a +1.0 differential is enough to account for its .500 record if nothing else.

South Florida has a dual-threat quarterback in Jordan McCloud. He is not a top-notch passer, but he is decent: 776 yards on just 124 throws (55.6 percent) with 10 Touchdown passes and six picks on the season. He has done his work with his feet. McCloud ranks No. 2 in rushing yardage with 59 carries for 242 yards and four touchdowns. Lead running back Jordan Cronkite has crushed, too. he has 108 attempts at 5.4 per-carry, with another four touchdowns on the season.

South Florida has scored 12 TDs via the rush this season. Its passing game, while trailing the pack in yardage, has been good for scores: South Florida has scored 16 passing touchdowns, and its lea receiver Mitchell Wilcox has four of those and 254 yards on his 15 catches. Though South Florida is not a great passing team, it mixes it up just enough to give Cronkite and McCloud their proclivity to rush for such great yardage. The Bulls as a team average 5.0 yards-per-attempt, and it has four options (including Wide receiver Kelley Joiner Jr.) with 30 carries or more this season.

TEM

The Temple Owls are 5-3 on the season and in third place in the AAC East. It is unlikely to catch either of the teams before it in the division (Cincinnati and UCF), but the improvement has been noteworthy for the Owls. Though it comes in as losers of two straight, both those losses came to the toasts of the conference in SMU and UCF. It was not really in either of those games, but it was not really expected to be either.

Temple has got it done this year with a much-improved passing game bolstered by the talents of quarterback Anthony Russo. Russo has guided Temple to a No. 38 ranked pass offense, on the heels of 1,873 yards passing, 16 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and just 11 sacks (just 1.3 per game). The Owls have also got good production from its top rusher, despite not being a major rushing team. Re’Mahn Davis has 135 attempts for 655 yards and five touchdowns. No. 2 running back Jager Gardner has fared well too, though he averages just 4.0 yards-per-carry.

Gardner does have five touchdowns as well, and 405 yards on the season. The top two rushers have accounted for 10 of the 11 touchdowns, with the 11th coming from Russo who is a terrible rushing quarterback. He has 24 attempts for -53 yards on the season. Russo’s top receivers have been Branden Mack and Jadan Blue. Blue leads the team in total catches (44) and averages 12.5 yards-per-catch. Mack leads the team in yardage with 629 and in touchdowns (5).

The Owls have been pleased with kicker Will Mobley. He has hit all 26 PATs and is 7 of 8 on his field-goal attempts, including a long of 44-yards.

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