Big East Matchup
Cincinnati, OH - After beginning its Big East schedule with high expectations, South Florida now finds itself near the bottom of the conference standings.
Following another tough loss, the No. 24 Bulls look to regroup when they visit Cincinnati on Thursday night.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made South Florida –2.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Thursday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on South Florida –2.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
South Florida (6-2, 1-2), the only ranked team in the Big East, rose as high as No. 10 in the AP poll. Losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville and only a win over a 1-6 Syracuse team, however, have put them on the verge of falling out.
The Bulls are trying to avoid a repeat of last season when they were ranked as high as No. 2 in the poll, but then dropped their next three to fall out of contention for a Big East title.
"We just need to play a little bit better," coach Jim Leavitt said. "We've had two very close losses, but it hasn't been because our guys haven't fought ... That's very important to me."
Leavitt's team has only a short time to recover from Saturday's 24-20 loss to Louisville. Matt Grothe was 30-of-40 for 344 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Bulls rushed for a school-low eight yards and Grothe was sacked five times for a loss of 42 yards.
The Bulls had a chance to go ahead late in the fourth quarter, but Grothe threw an interception, and on Louisville's next drive, South Florida was called for a holding penalty on a Cardinals' missed field goal. It never got the ball back again.
The Bulls came in averaging 194.6 rushing yards per game, led by the mobile Grothe and tailback Mike Ford. Grothe had 10 carries for minus-27 yards on Saturday while Ford was held to five carries for 13 yards in limited action.
Ford did not start Saturday because of an ankle injury that has hampered him all season. He was looking to follow up an impressive freshman campaign in which he rushed for 645 yards and 12 touchdowns, but has so far been limited to 289 yards and five touchdowns - none in three Big East contests - in seven games this season.
"It's been frustrating," Leavitt said. "That's been a guy we went into the season hoping we could use a little more than last year ... but we just haven't been able to use him."
Like the Bulls, the Bearcats (5-2, 1-1) are also coming off a loss after having their four-game winning streak snapped Saturday, 40-16 by Connecticut. Cincinnati had allowed 55 points during the winning streak, but gave up 20 in the fourth quarter en route to the ugly defeat.
Tony Pike and Chazz Anderson combined to throw for 259 yards for Cincinnati. Pike started for the first time since breaking his left (non-throwing) arm against Akron on Sept. 27, but only made it through the first half. It's uncertain whether he will be able to play Thursday.
"There appeared to be some loss of feeling and we wanted to be certain that we weren't putting him in a precarious situation," Bearcats coach Brian Kelly said. "Our training staff recommended that under those circumstances we should not play him."
Cincinnati, which is 3-0 at home, was 0-for-14 on third-down opportunities Saturday and managed just 30 yards rushing.
This is the sixth all-time meeting between the teams. Cincinnati has won three of five, including the last two, as well as both meetings at Nippert Stadium.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
CINCINNATI is 4-1 against the spread versus S FLORIDA since 1992
CINCINNATI is 3-2 straight up against S FLORIDA since 1992
3 of 4 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
CINCINNATI is 2-0 against the spread versus S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
CINCINNATI is 2-0 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 CINCINNATI since 1992
CINCINNATI is 2-0 against the spread versus S FLORIDA since 1992
CINCINNATI is 2-0 straight up against S FLORIDA since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at CINCINNATI over the last 3 seasons.
CINCINNATI is 1-0 against the spread versus S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
CINCINNATI is 1-0 straight up against S FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries:
[S] Danny Verpaele left last game, downgraded to expected to miss 6 weeks.
[OG] Zach Hermann is expected to miss 2 weeks. - Foot - 10/20/08
[LB] Alonzo McQueen missed last game ~?~ - Foot - 10/19/08
[CB] Theo Wilson missed last game ~?~ - Knee - 10/19/08
[OG] Matt Huners is "?". - Ankle - 10/23/08
[OL] Danny Tolley is out indefinitely - ACL - 08/07/08
[PK] Justin Teachey is "?". - Quad - 10/22/08
No significant injuries.
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Posted: 10/27/08 8:58PM