Bulls Road Favorite

For two teams coming off victories, South Florida and North Carolina State couldn't feel any more different about their performances last week.

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After barely surviving against an inferior opponent, the 13th-ranked Bulls will have a tougher test on Saturday in Raleigh when they face an N.C. State team still buzzing from an upset of a ranked rival.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made South Florida-9 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on South Florida –6 (View College Football bet percentages).

USF (4-0) was often dominant in jumping out to a 6-0 start and a No. 2 ranking last season, but this year's unbeaten beginning has been considerably rockier.

The Bulls' last three games have been decided by eight or fewer points, including a 31-24 overtime win at Central Florida on Sept. 6 and last Saturday's 17-9 victory at Florida International.

FIU came into the game having been outscored 82-10 in two losses and having won once in its last 26 contests, but USF nearly let the Golden Panthers back in the game late in the fourth quarter.

Standout quarterback Matt Grothe threw for just 136 yards and didn't have a passing or rushing touchdown for only the second time in 30 career games.

"We played about as bad as we could have played," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "I don't see how we could have played worse."

There was almost even more bad news for the Bulls during the game, as linebacker Brouce Mompremier was airlifted to a hospital after injuring his head and neck in a collision with teammate Carlton Williams. Mompremier still has felt tingling in his neck and shoulders, but could return to action in a few weeks.

USF still has more work to do to heal its confidence. The lone ranked team in the Big East looked strong in a 37-34 win over then-No. 13 Kansas on Sept. 12, but it's been a different story on the road, where the Bulls have struggled against a pair of opponents that are a combined 1-5.

"I think we need to make a statement," Grothe said. "It is an ACC team. Everyone has been saying the Big East is down this year. So if we can come out and play well, and do like I know we can, it will help us as a team and help us nationally with everybody."

N.C. State (2-2) should present the Bulls' toughest road test yet, especially after the Wolfpack shocked then-No. 15 East Carolina last Saturday in a 30-24 overtime victory.

The Pirates had burst into the Top 25 after beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia - both ranked at the time - earlier this season, but Andre Brown's 10-yard touchdown run in overtime secured the win for N.C. State.

"This is the first time we've played 60 minutes of tough, hard-nosed football," Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said. "The plays we weren't making in the past, we made them today."

If the Wolfpack want to pull off another upset, however, they're going to have to do it with a different quarterback at the helm. Freshman Russell Wilson got the majority of the snaps last weekend and starred, throwing for 210 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, but he suffered an undisclosed injury and was ruled out against USF.

Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, with four career touchdown passes and nine interceptions, will become the third quarterback to start for the Wolfpack this season.

N.C. State's leading tackler will also be sidelined, as linebacker Nate Irving was added to the team's lengthy injury list with a leg problem.

"I have never seen a situation like this in any school I have ever been at," O'Brien told N.C. State's official Web site. "But it is what we have been dealing with all year. ... We have nine or 10 starters that aren't playing. It's consistently been that way all season long."

N.C. State scored nine total points in losses at South Carolina and Clemson earlier this season, but is 2-0 at home going into the second of four straight contests in Raleigh.

The program's only previous meeting with USF was at a neutral site, where the Wolfpack beat the Bulls 14-0 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 31, 2005.

Key Injuries

[CB] Tyson Butler missed last game ? - Ankle - 09/12/08
[OL] Danny Tolley is out indefinitely - ACL - 08/07/08
[RB] Mike Ford is "?". - Ankle - 09/17/08
[RB] Benjamin Williams is "?". - Ankle - 09/17/08
[OG] Zach Hermann is expected to miss at least a month. - Foot - 09/11/08


Betting Trends For This Game
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NC STATE is 23-40 ATS (-21.0 Units) in weeks 5 through 9 since 1992.
Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.

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