The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have high hopes this year under second year Head Coach Brian Kelly. They’ll run into a tough task on the first Saturday of the season at home though, when they face off with the South Florida Bulls.
USF is perennially one of those middle of the road 6-6 or 7-5 teams in the Big East, but this year, Head Coach Skip Holtz hopes to turn things in the right direction and make it a national power. Unfortunately, he really doesn’t quite have the staff to get the job done right now in all likelihood. There’s still a big question about how this offense is going to be run this season. QB BJ Daniels only accounted for 1,685 passing yards last season before giving in on certain situations to QB Bobby Eveld. The two still only combined to lead the Bulls to just 164.5 passing yards per game, No. 101 in the nation. South Florida also only ranked No. 85 in scoring at 24.1 points per game, a number which probably won’t cut it come this season. This wouldn’t be the first time that the team was able to pull off a major upset on the road against a big time foe, though. Just ask the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles what it’s like to run up against South Florida over the course of the last few seasons.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame is once again going to have a ton of hype surrounding it this season. The team had some moments of sheer brilliance last year, but some moments of total disarray as well. It was good enough to let the pollsters rank the Irish in the Top 20 in the nation, respect that many think isn’t deserved. After a fierce QB battle in the offseason, it appears as though Kelly is ready to turn over the reins of his team to QB Dayne Crist. Crist threw for 2,033 yards last season to lead the team, and his leading receiver, Heisman Trophy candidate WR Michael Floyd is back in the fold as well. Floyd had 1,025 yards and a dozen total TDs last year, and he was the main reason, with all-star TE Kyle Rudolph nursing injuries, why this team averaged 253.1 yards per game passing, No. 34 in the land. There are still questions about Notre Dame’s defense, though, as this is a unit which allowed a ton of points in some questionable games last season. This is the unit that is really going to have to step up on Saturday to shut down the Bulls.
South Florida Bulls @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: This is just too many points to be giving a bowl team with nothing to lose. The Bulls aren’t quite the real deal yet, and they might not be good enough to win this one, but Irish eyes are going to be sweating come Saturday for sure.
Free College football Pick: South Florida Bulls +10 @ 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.