Friday night brings us a trio of intriguing College Football tilts to get us ready for the main slate of games on Saturday. The first kickoff of the evening looks to be the most intriguing of the three, as the #23 South Florida Bulls hit the road to take on its American Athletic Conference rival, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Let’s take a look at what both squads bring to the table for this intriguing tilt, which will be broadcast to the nation on ESPN.
South Florida @ Tulsa, Friday October 12, 7:00 PM EST, ESP
- South Florida -7 (-117)
- Tulsa +7 (-103)
- South Florida -280
- Tulsa +235
- Over 60 1/2 (-110)
- Under 60 1/2 (-110)
South Florida vs. Tulsa Pick
The South Florida Bulls enter this tilt with a perfect mark of 5-0. A trio of the team’s victories were by double digits, but Illinois and East Carolina held the margin of victory to seven points or less. All told, the Bulls are outscoring opponents by a margin of 186-126 thus far.
It has been a different story for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. After opening the season with a 38-27 victory over Central Arkansas, the club has dropped its last four in a row. On the year, Tulsa has been outscored by a mark of 156-122.
South Florida’s offense erupted for 58 points last week in a road victory over UMass. The hosts could only muster 42 points, and they just didn’t have any answers whatsoever for Bulls junior RB Jordan Cronkrite, who posted a ridiculous line of 23/302/3, setting a school record for rushing yards in a game along the way.
It was a coming out party for Cronkrite, who has carried the rock 69 times in total this season for 606 yards and five scores. Junior QB Blake Barnett has been at the helm. He’s completing 65.1 passes for 1,308 yards, nine scores and four picks. Barnett has also run the ball 50 times for 125 yards and four additional scores.
Freshman wideout Randall St. Felix is leading the way among the pass catchers, hauling in 21 balls for 351 yards and a score. All told, the offense is averaging 274 passing yards, 213.4 rushing yards, and 37.2 points per game. Defensively, the Bulls are holding opponents to 210 passing yards, 212.8 rushing yards, and 25.2 points per game. Through five games, the unit has generated 16 sacks and 12 turnovers.
For Tulsa, the 38 points the team scored in Week 1 remains the season’s highpoint to date. Since then, the high water mark is 26 points, which the team scored in a losing effort to Houston last week. That also marked the first time the team has produced greater than 21 points since the opener.
The passing game has simply not been productive for Tulsa. Sophomore Luke Skipper had the reins for the first four games, and he threw for four scores and six picks. Skipper was out the last game due to injury, and freshman Seth Bonner was given the keys to the offense, throwing for one score and tossing one pick in a losing effort.
The running game has fared much better. Sophomores Corey Taylor II and Shamari Brooks have been leading the way, and both have delivered solid production thus far. Taylor has a line of 92/411/4, while Brooks has produced 92/375/4. A trio of pass catchers have 200 or more receiving yards, led by junior Keenen Johnson with a line of 18/271/2.
All told, the offense is producing an average of 190.8 passing yards, 206.8 rushing yards, and 24.4 points per game. Defensively, the Golden Hurricane are holding opponents to averages of 173.4 passing yards, 207.4 rushing yards, and 31.2 points per game. The unit has generated just four sacks on the year, but it has forced nine turnovers.
Looking ahead, South Florida takes on UConn next week before closing out the month with a game against Houston. Tulsa takes a trip to Arkansas next week and follows that up by welcoming Tulane to town the following week.
These two programs have hooked up twice in the past four years. South Florida is 2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread, and the Over and Under came in once apiece. Back in 2014, South Florida was a 38-30 road victor in a game with a projected total of 50 points in which the school was favored by 2.5 points.
The Bulls hosted the Golden Hurricane last year, and they were favored by a whopping 23.5 points in a game with a projected total of 66 points. When the final whistle blew, South Florida walked away victorious by a score of 27-20.
South Florida entered both the AP and the Coaches polls this week at #23. The school has a shot at remaining in the poll as long as it remains undefeated. This week aside, South Florida’s toughest remaining games look to be against Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF.
As for Tulsa, the remaining schedule looks to be challenging for a program that’s struggling this season. The team is having major problems hanging onto the ball with 16 turnovers on the year, which is tied for worst in the country. A turnover differential of -7 is not a portender of success, especially for a school which gives up an edge in talent to many opponents.
South Florida is clearly the better team on paper, and winning outright shouldn’t be an issue. The nationally ranked squad is stronger on both sides of the ball than its opponent, and the program is well aware that a slip up will knock it out of the national polls.
Is that enough incentive for the squad to deliver a good enough performance to cover a seven-point spread? That’s the direction we’re leaning in. We’ll be looking for South Florida to win outright, and they should be able to produce enough to cover the seven-point spread.
Our selection is South Florida minus the points.