B. J. Daniels and his South Florida Bulls are 4-0 and now have the national audience’s attention in their BIG EAST opener against Pittsburgh tonight. The Bulls’ QB has played virtually mistake-free football in the first four weeks of the college football season and has led Skip Holtz’s squad to a No. 16 ranking in the AP Poll (No. 14 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll).
On the opposite side field and on the opposite side of the spectrum, stand the Pittsburgh Panthers who were supposed to challenge West Virginia for conference supremacy but are coming off two straight tough-to-swallow losses. The High Octane offensive philosophy of first-year head coach Todd Graham has yet to kick into gear in Pittsburgh like it did in Tulsa. Other than the play of RB Ray Graham in the first two games, the Pittsburgh offense has been boring and blunder-filled. Sacks, penalties, turnovers, and shortcomings in short yardage situations have been hazardous obstacles to the “High Octane” offense.
Despite being on seemingly divergent paths, both the Bulls and the Panthers have yet to play a conference game, which means both have yet to lose a conference game either. So, while at this moment it seems as if it’s always sunny in South Florida and that it’s the pits to be in the ‘Burgh, that could all change with a Panthers victory tonight at Heinz Field. A Pitt victory would give them a 1-0 record in the conference and hopefully (for their sake) give the Panthers a much-needed jumpstart to their season. Because despite how poorly they’ve looked so far, if they take care of business at home and in conference play, they still will be in contention for a BCS Bowl.
South Florida had a marquee victory in Week 1 at South Bend and has feasted on a light menu (schedule-wise) ever since. Blowout victories over subpar opponents are what elite teams are supposed to do, but I’m not quite sure yet if the Bulls are an elite team yet. Elite teams also win tough conference games on the road. If South Florida can manage to win at Pittsburgh tonight, they will begin to be mentioned in that elite status—at least by BIG EAST standards—along with West Virginia. If not, they will fall to 0-1 in the conference with another conference road game at Connecticut next weekend looming in the wing.
South Florida’s defense and special teams have come up with a big, momentum-shifting play in each game of this season. I expect that to continue tonight with CBs Quenton Washington and Kayvon Webster giving Pittsburgh QB Tino Sunseri fits all evening. I also expect the Pitt defense to play well early on, but I suspect that they will be on the field a long time because their offense has shown the inability to sustain long drives and to score touchdowns consistently. South Florida has so much speed on offense and will eventually wear down Pittsburgh’s defense and break one or two big plays for touchdowns.
Tonight, with the whole college football world watching, B.J Daniels, WR Lindsey Lamar, RB Darrell Scott and the Bulls’ offense are going to make Pittsburgh feel like Pamplona. South Florida wins 27-17.
Follow me on Twitter @BigEastXMNR
Send e-mails, comments, and feedback to BigEastXMNR@gmail.com.