The Syracuse Orange will play host to the South Florida Bulls on ESPN’s Friday night football betting action this week, as both teams try to take a crucial step towards bowl eligibility.
The Bulls got off to such a promising start to the season when they went on the road and took care of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish without really much in the way of hassle. In fact, they started off at a solid 4-0 and looked ready to challenge for the team’s first BCS bowl bid in team history. Instead, disaster struck in the form of a primetime defeat, a 44-17 romp at the hands of the Pitt Panthers at the end of September, and it has been all downhill from there. The team has lost four games in a row, though the last three have come by a combined 12 points. The good news is that this is the last road game of the year, though the season wraps up with games against Miami, Louisville, and West Virginia, and the Bulls would love to only have to win one of those games to qualify for a bowl bid. When you look at the numbers for this team, you don’t think of one that is 4-4. USF is averaging 470.6 yards per game and 32.5 points per game, and it is conceding 345.8 points per game and has held six of its eight foes to 24 points or fewer. That being said, a lot of the stats were racked up against a non-conference schedule that included Ball State, UTEP, and Florida A&M, so we have to be tempered.
We’re just about ready to put the Orange in the Pinstripe Bowl for the second straight year. At 1-3 in conference, it would take winning out and getting a lot of help to challenge for a BCS bowl bid, and it will only take one more victory to ensure a trip to a bowl game. In all likelihood, there are a number of other teams from this conference that will end up taking bowl bids ahead of the ‘Cuse, but if the Pinstripe Bowl has its chance to take the hometown team, you know that’s the route that it is going to go. Then again, we have to remember that after this game, there are only two games left, one against Cincinnati, and one against Pittsburgh, neither of which Syracuse will be favored in. This isn’t a particularly pretty team, as QB Ryan Nassib doesn’t run the smoothest offense in the world. He is completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,960 yards with 18 TDs against three picks. The ground game is dominated by RB Antwon Bailey, who has 177 carries for 798 yards and six trips to the end zone.
South Florida Bulls @ Syracuse Orange Pick: We aren’t so sure why the Bulls are favored in this game. They just don’t really have the feel of the better team in this one, and they definitely haven’t played well on the road since getting romped by the Panthers. Don’t be shocked if the hosts gain bowl eligibility and put all doubts to rest on Friday night.
College Football Pick: Syracuse Orange +3.5 at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.