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#21 USF hosts Temple for some Thursday night action
By: Staff Writer - StatFox
Published: 9/19/2017  at  8:38:00 PM
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Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay, FL
Kickoff: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: South Florida -20.5, Total: 58.5

#21 South Florida will be hoping to stay perfect with a Thursday night victory over Temple.

Temple is coming off of a 29-21 victory over Massachusetts last week, but the team was favored by 14.5 in that one. The Owls have now failed to cover in all three of their games this season, which could be an indication that they are missing head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule left to take the Baylor job in the offseason, but he has also had his struggles. Baylor is off to an 0-3 start both SU and ATS, so at least things are going a bit better for Temple. The team also happens to have a chance to turn some heads with a victory over South Florida on Thursday. The Bulls are coming off of a dominant 47-23 victory as 16.5-point favorites over Illinois last week, and that was South Florida’s first win-and-cover this season. The team racked up 680 yards of total offense in that game, and it was the first time this team truly looked good since last season. A lot of that could have to do with the fact that former head coach Willie Taggart is now in Oregon, but new head coach Charlie Strong is no slouch. Perhaps they found their groove last week, and that is certainly something they are hoping is true. South Florida lost 46-30 as a six-point favorite against Temple last year, so the team knows it must be at its best in order to win this one here. Working in the Bulls’ favor is the fact that they won 44-23 as three-point home underdogs against the Owls in Tampa two years ago. Temple is, however, a ridiculous 9-0 ATS against conference opponents dating back to last season. The Owls are also 11-3 ATS after allowing 100 or fewer rushing yards in their previous game over the past three seasons.

Temple is 2-1 right now, but this team has a lot room for improvement moving forward. The Owls have really struggled on the offensive side of the ball, and it’s QB Logan Marchi (796 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT) that is going to need to play a lot better soon. Marchi has completed only 57.5% of his passes this season and that is not an acceptable number for a team that has high expectations. Marchi will need to be a lot more accurate with the ball on Thursday or this game could get out of hand. The atmosphere in Tampa will be electric for a night game like this one, and the Bulls will be looking to capitalize on any mistakes that Marchi makes. One thing that would help Marchi in this game is a solid rushing attack. That means that RB Ryquell Armstead (177 yards) will be leaned on heavily here. Armstead is a very good back, but he has not yet hit the 100-yard mark this season. If he can do that on Thursday then Temple just might be able to pull off this upset. Defensively, it’s all about finding a way to contain Quinton Flowers. The Bulls’ offense runs through Flowers, so if Temple can slow him down then this should be a good one.

The Bulls have been waiting for QB Quinton Flowers (678 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT) to turn in one of his signature performances, and he finally did that against Illinois last week. In that 47-23 victory, Flowers was 15-for-27 for 280 yards with four touchdowns and only one pick. He also added 106 yards and a score on the ground. Flowers clearly misses Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense, but clearly what they were doing last week worked. Flowers will once again try to shred his opponent both through the air and on the ground on Tuesday, but Temple’s defense is a lot better than Illinois’. He should definitely expect a few more hiccups here. RB Darius Tice (256 yards, 4 TD) could have an increased role in this Thursday night game. The Bulls are going to want to keep Temple guessing, so giving Tice as many carries as he can handle will only benefit Flowers and South Florida. Tice has also scored in all three games the team has played this season, showing good things happen when he touches the ball. On defense, South Florida would be wise to focus on stopping the run.

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