A pair of teams that are coming off season-opening wins take to the gridiron in the shadow of the Golden Dome. The South Florida Bulls make the trip to the Midwest as they take on the #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday afternoon. South Florida opened their season with a 27-6 home win over The Citadel last Saturday to get off to a positive start. Notre Dame upended Duke 27-13 last Saturday in their season opener at home to start the year 1-0. The Bulls won the only previous meeting between the schools, upsetting the Fighting Irish 23-20 on the road on September 3, 2011.
South Florida Bulls Looking for 2-0 StartSouth Florida didn’t overwhelm The Citadel, an FCS program, but did enough to come up with the victory in the opening game of the season. The Bulls face a stiffer challenge in this contest as they have to battle on the road against a top-10 opponent. South Florida trailed 3-0 in the final minute of the first quarter before taking the lead and held a slim 7-6 advantage before taking full control of the game. The Bulls held The Citadel scoreless the final 41 minutes en route to the win. South Florida held a 404-284 edge in total offense, a 20-16 advantage in first downs and forced three turnovers while not committing a turnover of their own. That included a botched punt that led directly to a touchdown. USF wasn't completely healthy for The Citadel game and held out players that might have played if they were going up against an FBS team.
The Bulls are 39th among active teams in the FBS as they average 102 yards per game through the air on the year. South Florida stands seventh in the nation in rushing offense with 302 yards per contest. The Bulls are tied for 27th in the FBS in scoring offense with 27 points a night while they are tied for seventh in scoring defense by allowing six points per game. Jordan McCloud completed 11 of 16 passes for 68 yards plus a score. Noah Johnson is three of four for 24 yards while Katravius Marsh is four of five for 10 yards. Kelley Joiner is the team’s leading rusher with eight carries for 87 yards plus a score. Johnny Ford (nine carries, 71 yards), Johnson (seven carries, 49 yards, TD) and Brian Battie (three carries, 43 yards) are important contributors in the ground game. When South Florida goes to the air, Randall St. Felix leads the team with four catches but they went for just seven yards. Bryce Miller (three receptions, 36 yards) is the only other player with more than two grabs on the year. Spencer Shrader hit three of his four extra-point attempts and missed his lone field goal try on the season.
“You know, this is a point in our program where our guys are going to be able to go play loose, play confident, play free," said head coach Jeff Scott on 247sports.com. "I'm looking forward to the day where, you know, we have a chance to play in a game like this, where we're expected to win in the game. We're not there yet at all. We're going from, from playing an FCS opponent to play a potential national championship team in seven days. I think it's great for us as a team and coaches and players, because we get an opportunity to really kind of see where we are. I would imagine everybody we play after this week is going to be somewhere maybe in between these first two games. 2020 is a different year, never know what happens anytime you get out there on the field, but there's no doubt. This will be as big a challenge as we face in a long time."
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Shoot to Avenge Previous Loss to BullsNotre Dame had their starts and stops but took care of business against Duke in their opener. The Fighting Irish now gets a chance to avenge their loss at home to South Florida from nine years ago when they take the field here. Notre Dame overcame being down 3-0 after one quarter to take a 10-6 halftime lead. After Duke stayed within four after three quarters, the Fighting Irish’s defense stepped up while the offense put 10 points on the board to put the game away. Notre Dame owned a 441-332 edge in total offense, picked up 24 first downs while allowing 18 and controlled the clock by a 33:24 to 26:36 margin. The Fighting Irish also won the turnover battle, creating a pair of takeaways while committing only one giveaway.
This season, the Fighting Irish stands 21st in the nation in passing offense as they average 263 yards per game through the air. Notre Dame stands tied for 17th in rushing offense with 178 yards per game on the ground this year. On the young season, Notre Dame is 25th in the FBS in scoring offense as they average 27 points per game. The team stands 10th in the FBS in scoring defense as they allow 13 points per contest. Ian Book completed 19 of 31 passes for 263 yards with one touchdown and one interception while adding 12 yards on the ground. Kyren Williams leads the way on the ground with 19 carries for 112 yards plus two scores. Chris Tyree (six carries, 20 yards) and Jahmir Smith (five carries, 15 yards) are next in line. Tommy Tremble leads the team with five receptions for 38 yards. Joe Wilkins (four catches, 44 yards) and Michael Mayers (three receptions, 38 yards) are the next targets in line. Jonathan Doerer hit all three extra-point attempts and two of two field goal tries with a long of 48.
"We talk about four quarters of football," said head coach Brian Kelly on onefootdown.com. "For us, that’s get off to a better start, have an attention to detail. Our attention to detail wasn’t great at times, especially defensively. We gave up some uncharacteristically big plays, which is about attention to detail. The second half, which is about effort and enthusiasm, was outstanding.”
The top trends for this contest are:
- Bulls are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win
- Bulls are 1-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
- Fighting Irish are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win