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South Florida football vs. Houston: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Bulls battle Cougars

Blake Barnett #11 of the South Florida Bulls celebrates a touchdown during a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Raymond James Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Blake Barnett #11 of the South Florida Bulls celebrates a touchdown during a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Raymond James Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – South Florida began last season with seven straight wins before losing to Houston and the 20th-ranked Bulls look to avoid the same fate when they visit the Cougars for an American Athletic Conference showdown Saturday afternoon. USF, which dropped a 28-24 decision to Houston last season at home, arrives for the big test as one of the nation’s five unbeaten teams despite trailing in each of the last six games and struggling to put away 1-6 Connecticut 38-30 last week.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN2. LINE: Houston -7

 

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“You’d like to get started fast, you’d like a sense of urgency, but also you want to make sure that you’ve got to be consistent, and that’s what we haven’t been,” Bulls coach Charlie Strong told reporters. “We play a really good half of defense and the next half is bad. We play a really bad half of offense and the next half is really good. .. We’ve got to put it all together.” USF, ranks 11th in the nation in total offense, must improve defensively against a Houston team that is second in the country in scoring (48.7) and third in total offense after winning four in a row. The Cougars have given up a lot of points as well, despite boasting several playmakers on that side of the ball, but probable high-first round pick Ed Oliver (bruised knee) is questionable after the senior defensive lineman was chop blocked last week against Navy. “We’ll have to continue to monitor him day-to-day,” Houston coach Major Applewhite told reporters of Oliver, who is fifth in the nation with 13.5 tackles for loss.

ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (7-0, 3-0 American)

Junior running back Jordan Cronkrite has rushed for at least 100 yards in five straight games, tying Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack for the school record, and is third in the nation at 143.3 per contest. Quarterback Blake Barnett (seven rushing TDs) is also a threat on the ground while freshman running back Johnny Ford stepped up with a season-best 164 yards and three touchdowns rushing last week. “(Ford) has so much quickness to him,” Strong said of Ford, who is averaging 9.4 yards per carry overall. “When the seam opens for him, he can hit the seam and he can get to the second level and make a guy miss.”

ABOUT HOUSTON (6-1, 3-0)

Junior quarterback D’Eriq King, who had attempted just five collegiate passes before throwing for 137 yards and running for 83 in the win over USF last year, has been responsible for 32 touchdowns (23 passing) in 2018. King has several talented weapons, including sophomore Marquez Stevenson (40 catches, 613 yards, six TDs) along with juniors Keith Corbin (26, 498, seven) and Courtney Lark (28, 424, four). Oliver would be a huge loss, but Austin Robinson is coming off a career-high 21-tackle game in the 49-36 victory at Navy and fellow senior linebacker Darrion Owens is expected to return after missing six games with a knee injury.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Cougars are eighth in the nation is passing offense (321.3 yards per game) and junior RB Patrick Carr leads the team with 407 rushing yards.

2. USF senior WR Tyre McCants has 108 career receptions, including a team-high 40 this year, four behind Taurus Johnson for fifth in school history.

3. Houston is tied for third nationally with four total sacks allowed in seven games and the Bulls are averaging three per contest.

PREDICTION: Houston 31, South Florida 21

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