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Big East Football: Syracuse Orange At USF Bulls

Syracuse (3-1) at South Florida (3-1)

The Sports Network
The South Florida Bulls have never lost to the Syracuse Orange before and they will try to remain perfect in the series, when the two teams meet this weekend in Big East play at Raymond James Stadium.

The two teams have met five times previously on the gridiron and USF has won each clash, including a 34-20 decision last season. The 14-point victory represents the closest game in this series, which began in 2005. 

The Orange however, head into this bout with some confidence following its first 3-1 start since 2003. That record though, is a bit deceiving considering Syracuse's last two wins have come against FCS programs. The most recent win took place on September 25th, a 42-7 trouncing of Colgate.

As for the Bulls, they too are 3-1 and they haven't exactly played the toughest schedule either. Like Syracuse, USF has won consecutive games, with the most recent result being a 31-3 triumph of FAU last weekend. This is the last of three straight home games for the Bulls, who are 3-0 at Raymond James Stadium this season.

Delone Carter had himself a career day in the Orange's win over Colgate, as he rushed for 172 yards and four TDs on just 14 carries. He paced a Syracuse ground attack that churned out 249 yards, boosting the team's season average to 160.2 rushing ypg. Carter leads the way with 419 yards behind a 5.7 yard per carry average and he is the workhorse for this offense. QB Ryan Nassib has also enjoyed a solid start to the season, with nine TDs against just two INTs. He made the most of his limited opportunities in the win over Colgate, throwing for 169 yards and a TD on 8-of-15 pass attempts. His main target is Van Chew, whose 343 receiving yards are more than double the next closest players on the roster.

The Orange had complete control of the game against Colgate, so the 376 total yards the defense surrendered could be a bit deceiving. Syracuse gave up 230 of those yards on the ground, but surrendered just one TD in the victory. For the season, the Orange is allowing 131.5 ypg on the ground and 169.5 ypg through the air and those numbers are respectable. The defense though, could use a few more big plays, having recorded just eight sacks and five takeaways. Derrell Smith paces the defense with 39 stops for the season and that includes an 11-tackle performance last game.

The Bulls got the job done last weekend versus FAU, but the offense wasn't overly impressive with just 291 total yards in the game. QB BJ Daniels was efficient on 14-of-19 tosses for 155 yards and a score, while Moise Plancher ran for 93 yards and a pair of TDs on 20 carries. A dual-threat, Daniels has struggled throwing the ball this season, with four TDs against five INTs, but he has been effective with his legs, rushing for 187 yards and two scores. As a team, USF is managing a hardy 196.5 ypg on the ground, with Plancher and Demetris Murray combining for 463 rushing yards. Murray missed last game with a sore ankle, but should return this weekend.

Defensively, USF was on top of its game last weekend, limiting FAU to just three points and only 208 total yards. Furthermore, the Bulls came up with three takeaways, while also tallying seven sacks. It was a terrific performance from a defense that had managed just three sacks through the first four games. Each sack came from a different player, as USF used a real team effort to dominate FAU. Jon Lejiste got in on the act with a sack, giving him a team-high best three for the season. His pressure has helped the Bulls thrive against the pass, holding foes to just 161.5 ypg while posting seven INTs.

The Bulls are the more tested and talented team and they should be able to continue their dominance of Syracuse with a win this weekend.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 30, Syracuse 13

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.