Date/Time: September 19, 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: South Florida -2
One of UConn or USF will pick up their first win over a FBS opponent on Friday night as the Huskies head to Tampa to battle the Bulls. Each team is 1-2 so far this season with a win over a FCS opponent. UConn has been beaten by BYU and Boise State by a combined score of 73-31, while USF has been beaten by Maryland and NC State by a combined score of 73-34. UConn beat Stony Brook two weekends ago by a 19-16 final and USF beat Western Carolina 36-31 to open the season. South Florida is a two-point favorite.
The UConn Huskies were right in it against Boise State on Saturday but they fell apart in the fourth quarter. It was a 24-21 game after three quarters and the Broncos only outgained the Huskies by two yards for the game. A pick-six turned a 10-point game into a three-score rout and the Huskies fell to 1-2. The program was dealt a tough blow when Casey Cochran decided to call it quits due to concussions, leaving Chandler Whitmer to take over. Whitmer was sacked seven times by the Boise State defense and has completed less than 50 percent of his passes on the season. He’s been sacked 13 times overall in about two-and-a-half games.
Head coach Bob Diaco should eventually put together a good defense at UConn, but the Huskies have been completely overmatched at the line of scrimmage in both losses. Boise State and BYU have big, physical offensive lines and UConn wore down late in both games. All things considered, the defense has improved. Boise State only had 24 offensive points with a strip-six and a pick-six and two of their touchdown drives were less than 40 yards because of turnovers and special teams issues.
South Florida may have been able to pull off an upset of Maryland had it not been for a blocked punt that turned a USF fourth quarter lead into a fourth quarter deficit. That said, the USF offense has been awful this season. Between Penn State transfer Steven Bench, true sophomore Mike White, and true freshman Quinton Flowers, the USF quarterback trio has posted a stat line of 30-of-84 for 454 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Marlon Mack has been a bright spot at running back with a 6.9-yard average on 58 carries, but the lack of a passing game has really hurt USF. Seventy-five of the team’s 159 yards last weekend came on one play. The scariest part is that USF returned 10 starters on offense and seems to have regressed.
In three home games, the USF defense has allowed 104 points to Western Carolina, Maryland, and NC State. The Bulls gave up 458 yards to Western Carolina and 589 yards to NC State, who converted 11-of-16 third down attempts. This will be the first conference game for the Bulls and they fared well in conference play last season, allowing 24 points and 344 yards per game. One of the biggest problems for the defense is that the offense can’t stay on the field. Through three games, the Bulls have just 15 third down conversions.
Bob Diaco is 0-3 ATS so far this season. This will be the first road game of the season for UConn. Willie Taggart is now 1-2 ATS on the season and 6-9 at South Florida. Overall, Taggart is 30-22 ATS in his head coaching career, including a 24-13 mark at Western Kentucky from 2010-12. South Florida is 0-8 ATS in their last eight games as a home favorite.
Free College Football Pick: Connecticut Huskies
The USF offense is entirely too one-dimensional right now and the Huskies have an opponent that they can handle this week. They were physically dominated in both of their losses and seemingly overlooked FCS Stony Brook in their lone win. The Bulls seem to have no idea who will start under center as nobody has looked very good and there are fewer questions with the UConn personnel.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.