Matchup in the Big East
Louisville, Kentucky - A loss to start this month dropped South Florida out of the top 10 in the AP poll, but an impressive performance in its most recent contest moved the Bulls closer to returning to that lofty standing.
The 14th-ranked Bulls look to continue their ascent in the Top 25 when they visit Louisville on Saturday in a matchup of the Big East's most prolific offenses.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made South Florida –4.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on South Florida –4.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
South Florida (6-1, 1-1) opened the season with five straight victories and came into an Oct. 2 matchup with Pittsburgh ranked 10th, but lost 26-21 - a defeat that dropped them nine spots in the Top 25 the following week.
The Bulls struggled offensively in the loss, but put the frustrating effort behind them last Saturday, when they racked up 487 yards in a 45-13 home win over Syracuse.
"We didn't play as bad (against Pittsburgh as) everyone made it out to seem - we just didn't finish," said Matt Grothe, who went 19-for-26 for 248 yards and a season high-tying three touchdowns last week. "(Saturday) was different, and we're wanting to win the Big East. We want to be BCS eligible."
For Grothe and South Florida to reach that goal, they'll have to remain focused as they go into this weekend's contest at Louisville (4-2, 0-1).
The Bulls lead the all-time series with the Cardinals 3-2, winning the most recent matchup 55-17 at home Nov. 17. Both of South Florida's losses to Louisville, however, have come on the road.
The Bulls have won all three road games this season and eight of their last 10 away from Tampa since a loss to then-No. 10 Louisville on Nov. 18, 2006.
"We want to go up there and show everyone that we can win on the road," Grothe said. "We know that this is a big game. Whoever wins this game, the loser is probably out of the Big East race. We need to go up there and win, and win without a doubt."
Grothe moved into second place on the school's all-time list with his 41st touchdown pass last weekend. He also had 10 carries for 72 yards and a TD, earning Big East offensive player of the week honors for the third time this season.
Behind Grothe, the Bulls are second in the conference in passing as the quarterback is averaging 221.7 yards. They lead the Big East with 35.4 points and 436.3 yards per game.
Along with their offensive strengths, the Bulls top the Big East and rank seventh nationally with 260.4 yards allowed per game. They held Syracuse to 230 yards, and last week got a boost from the return of linebacker Brouce Mompremier, who started for the first time since suffering a serious neck injury Sept. 20 against Florida International.
However, defensive back and Danny Verpaele and linebacker Lucas Darr will miss Saturday's game due to undisclosed injuries that South Florida coach Jim Leavitt indicated "could be long term."
Leavitt's team will look to overcome those absences against a Louisville offense that ranks second in the conference with 405.2 yards per game, including 210.7 on the ground.
Louisville amassed 247 rushing yards in a 42-23 home victory over Middle Tennessee on Saturday. Brock Bolen had 20 carries for 67 yards and three touchdowns, while Victor Anderson ran 19 times for 161 yards and a TD.
Hunter Cantwell finished 14-for-23 for 144 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinals, who are aiming for three consecutive victories for the first time since winning four in a row to end the 2006 season, when they won the Big East.
"It's all Big East from here on out," Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said of the team's six remaining games. "We've got to do a great job of preparing this week because we play a very good South Florida team. We'll look no further than one game at a time."
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
S FLORIDA is 3-2 against the spread versus LOUISVILLE since 1992
S FLORIDA is 3-2 straight up against LOUISVILLE since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
LOUISVILLE is 1-1 against the spread versus S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
LOUISVILLE is 1-1 straight up against S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at LOUISVILLE since 1992
LOUISVILLE is 2-0 against the spread versus S FLORIDA since 1992
LOUISVILLE is 2-0 straight up against S FLORIDA since 1992
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at LOUISVILLE over the last 3 seasons.
LOUISVILLE is 1-0 against the spread versus S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
LOUISVILLE is 1-0 straight up against S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[OG] Zach Hermann is expected to miss at least a month. - Foot - 09/11/08
[CB] Theo Wilson missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/02/08
[LB] Brouce Mompremier out indefinitely - Neck - 09/20/08
[LB] George Selvie missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 10/02/08
[OL] Danny Tolley is out indefinitely - ACL - 08/07/08
[WR] Jajuan Spillman has been dismissed from the team. - Disciplinary - 07
[WR] Scott Long upgraded to probable - Foot - 10/05/08
(!) [QB] Hunter Cantwell upgraded to probable - Ankle - 10/05/08
[QB] Matt Simms upgraded to available to play. - Suspension Served - 10/09
[RB] George Stripling has been dismissed from the team. - Disciplinary - 0
[PK] Tim Dougherty is expected to miss next 2 games. - Suspension - 10/07/
[DE] Maurice Mitchell left last game %27?%27 - Leg - 09/26/08
[SS] Latarrius Thomas left last game,"?". - Shoulder - 09/26/08
[WR] Troy Pascley missed last game %27?%27 - Hip - 09/26/08
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Posted: 10/21/08 6:47PM