South Florida vs. Ball State
Time: 4:30 PM EST
Spread: So Fla -9
M/L: SFLA -550, BAL +450
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
The South Florida Bulls got off to a good start this season by winning their first two games one Chattanooga and Nevada, but stumbled last week against Rutgers, losing 13-23.
“What it boiled down to is we turned the ball over…and we couldn’t get off the field third down defensively,” South Florida coach Skip Holtz remarked. “We just made too many mistakes to come away with a victory.”
Those mistakes caused the Bulls to go the second and third quarters without a score, while Rutgers reeled off 13 unanswered points in that span, and an additional 10 in the fourth quarter, making the one USF TD scored by Demetris Murray in the fourth quarter the last score by the Bulls, as Ball State closed the game with a 22 yard field goal by Kyle Federico and a 41 yard TD run by Jawan Jamison, who finished with 151 yards on 41 carries, while no other ball carrier on Rutgers managed to come away with positive rushing yardage.
In the air, B.J. Daniels threw for 242 yards on a 45.5 percent completion ratio, but he failed to throw a single TD pass, while chucking away three interceptions. The performance dropped his QB rating down to 136.9 from 162. Daniels will have to come back strong against a Ball State defense that isn’t the highest rated, and capitalize upon the fact that the Cardinals backfield is pretty weak. They allowed Tajh Boyd of Clemson to throw 19 of 23 against them, while posting a QB rating of 209.3.
If South Florida is to cover the spread, it will be because Daniels is at his best, taking advantage of weak corners on the Ball State defense, as Jeffery Garnett and Jason Pinkston have struggled to contain the better receivers. If Andre Davis and Terrence Mitchell are able to run good routes and get going, the Bulls will win this game as favored.
Ball State came out of the gates strong last week against Indiana, leading by 13 after three quarters, in a game in which they were three point underdogs. The Cardinals held on to win by two, after surrendering two fourth quarter TDs to the Hoosiers.
In the upset victory, QB Keith Wenning threw three TD passes and caught another, which moved Ball State within 44 yards to set up a game winning field goal by Steven Schott with 49 seconds to go. The Cardinals were down 25-24 after a two point conversion early in the first half, but came back strong by scoring the next two TDs of the game before finding themselves down 38-39.
Down 38-39, Wenning completed passes of 14 yards, 12 yards, and a highlight reel 18 harder to Willlie Snead, who dove and then slid out of bounds with a second to go. The play moved Bal State from the Indiana 43 to the 25, and the road crowd in Bloomington hated it.
That crucial drive was just part of a brilliant performance by Wenning, who finished 26 of 44 with 222 yards. He carried the ball six times for 40 more yards and his reception, a 12 yard TD catch, was the first of his career thus far, and it helped the Cardinals take a 31-25 lead in the second quarter.
The game was a high point for a Cardinals team that had a tough week the week prior as losers to then No.12 Clemson. Going into the Indiana match, the Cardinals still had the 8th highest rushing rating in the nation with 290.5 yards per game, which has been keyed by the 5’10” sophomore Jahwan Edwards, who ran for over 200 yards on 20 carries with three TDs in the opening night win over Eastern Michigan, I said that if Edwards got in his groove again, it could result in a “Ball State Blowout, rather than the close game predicted by college football oddsmakers.”
That almost happened. Edwards rushed for 78 yards on 21 carries, and scored a TD. His backfield mate Jamill Smith rushed an additional 49 yards on four carries while also catching nine passes for 63 yards, including a 15 yard reception on one drive. His long rush also was for 30 yards, demonstrating the big play potential that Smith has.
It is the play of Edwards and Smith that leads me to believe that Ball State can cover this spread against the South Florida Bulls, as college football oddsmakers have set the college football betting spread nine points in the Bulls favor.
With strong backs and Wenning at his best, this Cardinals team should be able to give South Florida all they can handle, and the money line is set at Ball State +450, bettors are capitalizing on the chances of an upset, with 87.5 percent of money line bettors going with the Cardinals. Also, 67 percent of bettors are picking Ball State to cover this spread. This one has upset written all over it—again.
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