South Florida at Massachusetts
Time: 2:30 PM CT
Spread: USF -15
Odds c/o 5dimes
The South Florida Bulls remain undefeated at 4-0 after knocking off East Carolina last week 20-13. The Bulls now travel to UMass as 15-point favorites against its conference rival, in a game that will air at 2:30 PM on local broadcasts only. The over/under is set at a whopping 71 points according to college football oddsmakers, and it is largely because Massachusetts is a sad and pathetic case on the defensive end of the football.
South Florida also is an above average offensive team, though. The Bulls rank No. 58 in the nation at scoring offense, averaging 32 points per game while possessing a top-25 pass offense. That passing attack is paced by quarterback Blake Barnett, who has been fairly sensational thus far in his junior season. This is his first year as a starter, and he is completing 64 percent of his looks for an average of 8.79 yards per attempt, with an 8-to-3 TD/INT ratio. He has incurred 10 sacks already, however, which is a product both of his own decision making and an OL that has left a few holes on occasion. Barnett is an effective rusher usually, though last week he attempted nine rushes for 19-yards lost. In the first three games, he managed 31, 91, and 17 rushing yards.
Fortunately, the Bulls have a very effective No. 1 back: Jordan Cronkite has averaged 6.6 yards-per-carry with his 46 attempts for 304 yards, and he has two TDs. Barnett actually leads the team in rushing TDs with four, though. The Bulls really only have those two as legitimate rushing threats, although Duran Bell Jr. and Johnny Ford have shown promise in limited attempts.
Elijah Mack has been largely a disappointment with his 3.5 yards-per-carry on 14 attempts. Even so, South Florida is a strong offensive team that should be able to absolutely punish the Minutemen this week, particularly if Barnett looks more like the player he was rushing the ball prior to last week’s semi-disaster (in that facet of the game, anyway).
Massachusetts is 2-4 and its defense is almost entirely to blame. The Minutemen are among the worst in the FBS on the defensive end, surrendering a pathetic 42.7 points per game. That defensive shortcoming has hindered an otherwise good team, as Massachusetts does score 35.3 points itself while possessing a top-50 pass offense as a bright spot on an otherwise horrible football team.
Andrew Ford has thrown for 841 yards at a 65.5 percent clip, but he has thrown four interceptions to his six touchdowns, and he is horribly ineffective when he tries to rush (12 carries for an average of -2.0 yards per attempt). Marquis Young has been strong rushing the ball, but he possesses little help, leading the team in yardage (372) and touchdowns (4).
The Minutemen actually do not do a horrible job rushing the football with a 4.4 yard-per-carry average as a team, but it needs to get more touches for its most effective weapon Bilal Ally. Despite leading the team in yards-per-carry (minimum 10 attempts), he has seen just 18 attempts while Young and Jordan Fredericks have combined for 107. Perhaps the offensive coordination is the real weak spot of Mass’ attack—because ostensibly its players are talented and strong.
But that defense is going to need several playmakers recruited because teams are simply abusing Massachusetts on a weekly basis with so many of its tacklers utterly missing defensive assignments.
Teams cannot just surrender the type of scoring figures the Minutemen have without some mental lapses, but there is also the lack of talent on that end of the ball. It will cap any chance the Minutemen had at real success this season, to be sure. Expect South Florida to simply air it out and run up the score in a game that is probably more lopsided than even oddsmakers projections have rendered it.