BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : HOUSTON
By Leo Haggerty

The South Florida Bulls (7-0, 3-0 AAC East) head to the Lone Star State to challenge the Houston Cougars (6-1, 3-0 AAC West) in a battle of American Athletic Conference unbeaten teams.  Kickoff is schedule for 3:30 at TDECU Stadium.

The gauntlet starts for USF with a tilt against the team that upset them at Raymond James last season on a late touchdown.  It finishes four games later with a home game against Central Florida who just happens to be the only other team to defeat the Green & Gold in 2017.

Below are the four key points I feel the Bulls need to accomplish to keep the streak alive. One thing is for sure.  South Florida cannot plan on coming out flat or they’ll be watching the Cougars run away and hide.

All photos provided by It’s Sports Magazine’s Photo Journalists Matt and Trace Crisp.

1ST DOWN

Photo credit: Matt Crisp

REMEMBER LAST YEAR

One sentence.  Fourth-and-24.

Late in the contest, Houston converted that situation with a 30-yard completion with a gaggle of Bulls surrounding the Cougar receiver who found a way to come down with the pigskin.  UH finished the drive with a 20-yard TD run with 11 seconds left in the contest to shatter the Bulls dream of a perfect season.

I would bet the house payment that HC Charlie Strong has a clip of that play running 24/7 in the Bulls locker.  This will be a constant reminder of what the Bulls could have had and what the Green & Gold let slip away.

Nothing motivates a team more than a loss the previous year.  USF needs to come out from the opening kickoff and take the play to the Cougars.  Use revenge to their advantage.

2ND DOWN

SET THE TONE ON DEFENSE

If the Bulls let the Houston offense do what it wants to do, it will be a long afternoon for USF.  This isn’t Connecticut or East Carolina or Tulsa.  The Cougar can hang 50 on you in a hurry.

South Florida needs to control the line of scrimmage and make the UH offense abandon the run.  Making Houston one-dimensional is huge because now the USF defensive line can go after the quarterback with reckless abandon.

3RD DOWN

RUNNING OF THE BULLS

USF has control the football.  How do you do that, you ask?  You rush the football.  You run it and you run it and then you run it some more.

South Florida needs to release the Bulls.  Turn Jordan Cronkrite and Johnny Ford loose.  Not only does that move the chains but it also keeps the Houston offense on the bench.

4TH DOWN

KEEP KING FROM BECOMING MAJESTIC

Last year, Cougar QB D’Eriq King had his coming out party against the Bulls when he engineered the upset road win over South Florida.  Since then, the Manvel, Texas native has been the straw that stirs the drink when it comes to the Cougars offense.

The Bulls have to find a way to keep #4 under wraps.  It will be a daunting task because the junior signal caller is a special talent.

Yes, King will make some plays.  USF just has to limit those and make sure they’re don’t end up in the end zone.  If more than one does, look out if your a fan of the Green & Gold.

Well, it’s prediction time and here’s what I know.  The Bulls haven’t given me any reason to think they will put together a 60-minutes successful performance in all three phases of the game.

He’s what I also know.  This game has been circled on the USF schedule since it came out and revenge is a great motivator especially among athletes.

Finally, there’s a sub plot right below the surface.  Yes this is South Florida playing Houston.  It is also Florida versus Texas with both rosters packed heavy with home state talent so it’s for bragging rights as well.

I believe South Florida will punch it into high gear from the start.  USF, 38-30, with a late stop.