Do not let the 2-3 record fool you. This South Florida team is one that the Owls need to be on top of their game to beat. The Bulls are coming into Philadelphia hungry for a win as they try to snap a three-game losing streak after their most recent loss to No. 4 ranked Florida State.
USF had its program's largest crowd ever at Raymond James Stadium to watch a very competitive game between these two Florida schools. It lost 30-17, but showed with resilience and toughness that it can hang with a top-five team.
The two wins that USF does have fail to impress, beating Chattanooga 34-13 and barely getting by Nevada 32-31. A win at Temple could be the first big statement victory that can help turn the season around.
USF Defense: In order to beat the Owls, the defense needs to step up. It has given up 30 or more points in three of its first five games. Senior cornerback Kayvon Webster, who had 12 tackles against Florida State, is the clear leader on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Holtz had high remarks in his weekly press conference saying, "Webster has been leading us on the defensive side all year. I think he had his best game against Florida State, and it needs to run off on others." With seven starters returning from last year, the Bulls defense has plenty of experience playing together, but overall, it has given up way too many big plays in the first half of the season.
Coach Holtz also mentioned in his mid-week press conference that he needs to see more consistent play from his linebackers and defensive ends; these guys need more of a pass rush since they were only able to muster up two sacks last week against Florida State. He is mainly speaking of defensive end Ryne Giddins, who was 2nd team All-Big East last season, and linebacker Sam Barrington; both have been underperforming this season.
USF Offense: On the offensive side of the ball, senior quarterback B.J. Daniels is making an impact. Not only is he the leading passer, but he is also the leading rusher on the season. He has two less carries (61) than running back Demitrius Murray, but he has 24 more yards (273). Daniels is the ultimate duel threat quarterback. USF puts the ball in his hands a lot, and if he does't see anything open downfield, he will tuck the ball and run, making him a dangerous offensive weapon. Oftentimes, defenses set a quarterback spy on him, allowing for speedy receivers Derrick Hopkins and Terrence Mitchell to make catches in a wide-open field. Mitchell and Hopkins, along with sophomore Andre Davis, are attempting to fill the shoes of former leading receiver Sterling Griffin, who suffered a season-ending injury in week 3 against Nevada.
Turnovers continued to plague USF in Saturday's game, and it gave up four to the Florida State defense. Senior quarterback B.J. Daniels has already thrown seven interceptions in five games and has put the ball on the ground another three times. His ability to throw and run the ball works to his advantage, but he needs to hold onto the ball to give his team a chance to win.
Overall, the offense has looked pretty good, scoring an average of 26 points per game. It also averaged about 410 yards a game this year, airing the ball out for about 300 of those yards.
Prediction: Expect a close game between Temple and South Florida. Both teams are hungry for a win and do not want to fall further behind in the Big East. Temple is hosting this game and will have extra energy for two reasons: One, this is its first Big East game since 2004, and two, it is Temple's homecoming game. However, in the end, B.J. Daniels will have a huge day, and South Florida is going to spoil the party. Final Score: USF 28, Temple 24