BULLS – GOAL LINE STAND : MEMPHIS
By Leo Haggerty
Archived under Featured Articles – College & University of South Florida
USF finishes its trifecta of home games with a date with Memphis at Raymond James Stadium this Saturday. Kickoff is schedule for 4 pm.
The Bulls enter the fray coming off a last-second 20-17 loss to Cincinnati. That dropped the Green & Gold to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the American Athletic Conference East Division.
The 19th-ranked Tigers come to Tampa after an impressive 45-27 road triumph over Houston. That moved the Blue & Grey to 9-1 and 5-1 in the AAC West.
On paper, South Florida is a double-digit dog and this looks like a blowout win for the visitors. Luckily for the Bulls, the game is played on the field.
Can USF pull off a massive upset and stay on course for a bowl bid? Below are my four keys to victory that the Green & Gold need to accomplish.
What do you think? Am I spot-on or way off base? Read on to find out. Enjoy.
1ST DOWN – FORGET ABOUT IT
The Bulls need to forget about the outcome of the Cincinnati game. There’s nothing USF can do now to change the result so they must move on to Memphis.
The one thing that the Green & Gold want to store in the memory bank is the effort that they put forth against the Bearcats especially in the beginning of the tilt. Cincy was totally discombobulated on offense in the first half of the contest but South Florida did not take advantage of the situation.
The Bulls need to make sure they don’t let the bad thoughts from the Cincinnati loss feaster. It’ll be like an open wound and will only get worse. Don’t let one heartbreaking loss that you let get away become two.
2ND DOWN – DON’T PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE
Look, it’s no secret that USF needs to win the next two games to become bowl eligible. That’s their only path to post-season play.
What’s worthless is letting the thoughts of how to beat the Knights creep into your mind now. Lose to Memphis and the War on I-4 becomes just another football game.
South Florida cannot look ahead to the UCF game, period. The Bulls must focus their complete and undivided attention on finding a way to beat the Tigers. If they don’t, it’ll be a track meet and the Green & Gold will be chasing the Blue & Grey all afternoon.
3RD DOWN – WIN THE WAR IN THE TRENCHES
This game will be won or lost in the trenches. There are two reasons why both teams want to check this box as being accomplished.
Both teams want to establish the run. They want to control the clock and wear down the opposing defensive line.
The other is neither club wants to put the game completely in the hands of their quarterbacks. That would be Jordan McCloud for the Bulls and Brady White for the Tigers.
I don’t believe Memphis Head Honcho Mike Norville or South Florida Head Coach Charlie Strong would relish the fact that they’re on the short side of the scoreboard going into the final 15 minutes and having to throw the football to win. Maybe next year but not now.
Look for the Bulls to get the running game going early so they can control the clock. Also, that keeps the potent Memphis offense on the sideline.
4TH DOWN – MAKE A PLAY
There will be at least four times, and probably more, during the game where both team will have the opportunity to make a play. Make a tackle. Catch a pass. Convert a third down. Sack the quarterback. You catch my drift here, right?
To win this contest, South Florida has to be successful on what I call the 50-50 plays. When the Bulls have an opportunity to make a play, USF players have to step up and make a play a majority of the times.
If they Green & Gold do, they have a real good shot to win. If the Bulls don’t, it’s going to be another sad ending.
So, it’s time for me to make a call. Although I would really like to pick the Bulls, I just think Memphis has too much to play for. UM, 34-30, and the Tigers keep their AAC Championship aspirations as well as their New Year’s Six Bowl dream alive.