The South Florida Bulls will put their undefeated record and no. 23 ranking on the line Friday night when they visit the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. On the road, the Bulls are listed as 7-point favorites with an over/under set at 61.5 points.
USF snuck into the top-25 this past week after a 58-42 win over UMass last to get to 5-0 on the season. Even with their undefeated record, the Bulls haven’t been overly impressive. To be fair, they have wins over power conference teams like Georgia Tech and Illinois. However, both of those teams will be lucky to qualify for a bowl this year, so it’s not a stretch to say South Florida lacks a quality win.
The Bulls aren’t going to get a quality win on Friday against Tulsa, who’s 1-4 on the season. The Golden Hurricanes were 2-10 last year, and they’re in danger of enduring a similar season this year. In their defense, they’ve played a tough schedule and kept things respectable against teams like Texas and Houston. However, they’ve not proven that they can keep pace with good teams for four quarters.
Adjusting to Changes
The South Florida offense looks nothing like it did a season ago. Last year, dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers was running the show and was one of the most dynamic players in the country. Not only have they had to find a way to get by without Flowers, but the Bulls also replaced their top two running backs and their best wide receiver.
The adjustment hasn’t been easy, but the Bulls finally appear to be making progress on that side of the ball after last week’s 58-point explosion against UMass. Blake Barnett, a former Alabama quarterback, had his most efficient outing of the season last week while the running game has remained steady all season. Tulsa, meanwhile, has given up at least 27 points in every game this season and are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season, giving up 41 points against Houston. It could be tough for the Golden Hurricanes to keep the USF offense contained for four quarters.
Hand It Over
Offensively, the Golden Hurricanes have been plagued by turnovers. Over their last four games, Tulsa has turned the ball over 13 times. Some of those have come as a result of playing from behind against good teams. However, averaging three turnovers per game is not a recipe for winning against any team.
Even when they aren’t turning the ball over, the Tulsa offense isn’t that explosive. Quarterback Luke Skipper was in the midst of a disappointing season before being replaced last week by freshman Seth Boomer. While Boomer led the Golden Hurricanes to their second-highest point total of the season, he completed less than 50% of his passes and was responsible for two of Tulsa’s three turnovers.
Running of the Bulls
Tulsa is not as bad as their record indicates, nor is South Florida as good as their undefeated record indicates. However, USF is surely the better team in this game. Whether it’s via turnovers or poor execution, Tulsa won’t be able to keep pace with the Bulls over four quarters. Eventually, USF will pull away. Bet on South Florida -7 over Tulsa on Friday night.