The West Virginia Mountaineers are coming off of one of their most dominant outings beating the University of Las Vegas 49-10 and with that performance they snuck back into the AP Polls top 25. The (4-1) Mountaineers will look to keep their ranks among the top 25 in the nation when they clash with the (3-2) South Florida Bulls in a prime-time Thursday night affair. South Florida is coming off of a humbling home loss to Syracuse, a game that hung in the balance for the majority of the afternoon. The 25th-ranked Mountaineers open Big East play Thursday night in Morgantown looking to avoid their fourth loss to the Bulls in five years.
The South Florida Bulls will be coming into this contest as a frustrated and baffled group as they were totally hindered as 8 point favorites against Syracuse last Saturday. The Bulls are off to a shaky start under first-year coach Skip Holtz, losing their only two games against BCS conference schools. Holtz knows this matchup could be much tougher, considering West Virginia has an improved aerial attack led by sophomore Geno Smith after long being known for its running game. South Florida is ranked seventh of eight Big East teams in total yards per game (337.2) and last in passing (161.0). The Bulls were held to 219 yards by Syracuse, went 5 for 16 on third downs and scored their only touchdown on Lindsey Lamar’s 94-yard kickoff return. South Florida has been relatively excellent on defense, considering the fleet of players they lost the NFL last spring, they are giving up an average of 16 points per contest. Defensively, USF has plenty of talent to replace heading into this season. Ends George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul are both gone for the NFL, along with defensive backs Nate Allen and Jerome Murphy. The Bulls will also be limping into Thursday night’s game, an issue that they have come to be accustomed to this season. The team will most likely be without star wide out Sterling Griffin and will have to rely on a contingent of freshman flankers to fill his void, the Bulls already lost WR A.J. Love for presumably the year with a knee injury.
The West Virginia Mountaineers crept back into the top 25 after the latest release of the AP Polls top 25, they have not been ranked since being booted out after their September 25th loss to LSU. This will be the Mountaineers fourth home game of the season a place where they have been perfect thus far. One knocking point on this squad is the fact that they have not had major tests as of yet this year. Their major test came in a week 4 road game at LSU when they fell 20-14 as a 9 ½ point underdog. The Mountaineers are coming off a 49-10 blowout win over a hapless UNLV squad. The Mountaineers gained 445 offensive yards and converted on 4 of 11 on third down opportunities. Their run game was very effective as they rushed for 219 yards and gained 6.6 yards per carry in their blowout win. Quarterback Geno Smith completed 12 of 16 passes for 220 yards with three touchdowns and had no picks. On the ground Noel Devine rushed it 3 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. Devine has caught the eye of scouts and analysts around the league, he poses as a triple threat as he can run, catch, and even throw as he was a high school quarterback. Junior wide out Bradley Starks caught 4 passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns last week, they will look to him early and often against a suspect South Florida secondary. The West Virginia defense allows their opponents just 13 points and 254 yards per game. They are a very good defense. The team allowed the Rebels last week just 276 yards and 6 of 17 on third down. West Virginia shut down the UNLV run game allowing just 96 yards on 40 carries for a 2.4 yards per carry average.
South Florida Bulls vs West Virginia Mountaineers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
South Florida Bulls +10.5
@ West Virginia Mountaineers -10.5
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South Florida vs West Virginia Prediction for Betting Week 7:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – The Mountaineers took out a disappointing loss to LSU two weeks ago and asserted themselves against a weak UNLV team, I look for the team to take a set back this weak against a dangerous South Florida group. The Bulls have had the Mountaineers number in this series as they seem to always play them tough, even though they are the perennial inferior team. The Bulls upset West Virginia last year at home by a score of 30-19, this loss knocked the Mountaineers out of the top 25 polls. West Virginia is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing South Florida and interestingly is 4-7 ATS on Thursday night games. I look for the Bulls to exert some frustration from their dismal loss to Syracuse and hang tough against West Virginia. South Florida is 2-0 ATS versus West Virginia over the past 3 seasons. We will consider grabbing the points with the Bulls in this Big East clash.
Top Play Prediction = South Florida +10.5
Game Total Prediction – The South Florida Bulls proved that they were able to play in a defensive struggle, as witnessed last week in their 13-7 loss to Syracuse. The Bulls are giving up an impressive 16 points per contest and the Mountaineers are even more impressive with their 13 points per game. The Bulls usually play this West Virginia program tough which results in low scoring affairs more then often. In fact, the total has gone UNDER in 4 of West Virginia’s last 5 games when playing South Florida. With the exception of last year, a game that would have gone under for it not have been for a last second interception return for a touchdown by the Bulls, this two teams have gone UNDER 4 straight times. I believe Bulls coach Skip Holtz will get his group pumped to hold this West Virginia offense down and give his team a chance to win in the end. I look for a low scoring affair in this one, the Bulls should be able to show up and restrict this West Virginia offense from opening up. I recommend taking a look at the UNDER in this Thursday night prime-time affair.
Prediction = UNDER 43 Total Points