Television: ESPN Regional.
Series Record: South Florida leads, 3-2.
Western Kentucky currently holds the dubious honor of owning the nation's longest losing streak. Last week, the Hilltoppers held their home opener but put forth another losing effort in a 38-21 defeat at the hands of Indiana, marking the team's 23rd consecutive loss.
USF is led by first-year coach Skip Holtz and hasn't played since September 11th when the Bulls fell to the powerhouse that is the Florida Gators, 38-14.
These two squads have met five times previously, and USF holds a slim lead in the series, 3-2. The most recent encounter occurred last season with the Bulls prevailing in a 35-13 final.
Western Kentucky's offense is incredibly one-sided, leaning toward the run as it boasts one of the more exciting running backs in the country in Bobby Rainey. Arguably the only bright spot on offense, Rainey has recorded a 100- yard rushing performance in each of the Hilltoppers' first three games of the 2010 campaign while ranking fifth in the nation averaging 148 rushing yards per contest. In last week's 38-21 loss to Indiana, Rainey recorded two touchdowns for the second straight game and has five total on the season. The passing attack is incredibly weak, as WKU throws for just over 120 yards per game.
The Hilltoppers will be facing a formidable offensive attack in South Florida and will need to improve their play tremendously if they wish to have any chance at upsetting the Bulls. Western Kentucky's defense has let its opponents score an average of 50 points per game thus far, illustrating why the Hilltoppers own the longest losing streak in the country. Foes run for just under 200 yards each outing, while opposing quarterbacks throw for almost 300 yards per game. The Hilltoppers have allowed a whopping 20 touchdowns in three games so far this season (12 rushing, eight passing).
The Bulls are led by multi-talented quarterback B.J. Daniels. Not only has Daniels thrown for three touchdowns in two games this season, but he has also run for one. Daniels actually leads the team in rushing, gaining 130 yards on 22 attempts. Demetris Murray is the starting tailback for USF and takes over the running duties when Daniels hands the ball off. Murray also has a rushing touchdown while picking up 117 yards on 20 carries. The Bulls are averaging 36.5 points per contest this season, something that will most likely rise after this contest.
The USF defense has been impressive against the pass this season, yielding just 142 yards per game in its first two contests this season. The problems arise when trying to defend the run as foes have garnered an unacceptable average of 196.5 rushing yards. The USF secondary is athletic and has coerced the opposition to throw four interceptions. However, the defensive line needs to show more urgency and pressure the quarterback more as the Bulls have only recorded two sacks thus far in 2010.
With one of the best rushers in the nation going up against a lackluster defense against the run, Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey could individually spur an upset. But it's not likely as USF just has too much overall talent to let the Hilltoppers take the victory in Tampa.
Predicted Outcome: South Florida 42, Western Kentucky 28