TAMPA, Fla. – South Florida saw its potential on both sides of the ball last week and looks to build on that performance against much tougher competition when the Bulls host well-rested BYU for a non-conference game on Saturday afternoon. USF, which gave up 48 points in their American Athletic Conference opener a week earlier against SMU, totaled 503 yards and rolled past Connecticut 48-22 last Saturday.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: BYU -6.5
"We talked about playing physical and we played physical," Bulls coach Charlie Strong told reporters. "We talked about playing fast. We played fast and we played smart. This (BYU) team that we're playing this week is big. They're physical and they're athletic. We just need to match the intensity that we played with on Saturday." USF found its ground attack last week as senior Jordan Cronkrite, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last year but had been limited in the first four games, finished with 148 yards rushing against UConn. BYU comes in after a bye week following a disappointing 28-21 loss at Toledo in which it lost starting quarterback Zach Wilson indefinitely with a thumb injury that required surgery, and the Cougars go with freshman Jaren Hall behind center as they try to find the form that helped them beat USC and Tennessee. "We were able to get a lot of work done," BYU coach Kalani Sitake told the Salt Lake Tribune of the bye week. "We have a new quarterback. We have to get him ready, so we took advantage of that extra time. There's a lot of competition still on this team. So, trying to find ways to get our guys to execute on a higher level, that was our main focus."
ABOUT BYU (2-3)
Hall has completed 4-of-7 passes - all but one attempt against Toledo - for 58 yards, and will need more production from a ground attack that ranks 123rd out of 130 FBS teams with 102 yards per contest. Senior Ty'Son Williams tops the team with 264 yards and three touchdowns rushing while the Cougars boast three players with at least 18 catches and 250 yards receiving, including senior wideouts Aleva Hifo and Micah Simon along with junior tight end Matt Bushman. BYU, which is 100th in the nation in total defense (432.6 yards per game) and near the bottom with just five total sacks, is led by junior linebacker Kavika Fonua (team-high 44 tackles) and freshman linebacker Payton Wilgar (two interceptions).
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (2-3)
Cronkrite had 76 yards on 33 carries before busting out with a big effort versus UConn and Strong told reporters: "His first carry, he just ran through the hole and it was really aggressive. We just knew that he was going to have a good day." Senior quarterback Blake Barnett is still recovering from an ankle injury and freshman Jordan McCloud is expected to continue his progress after throwing for 157 yards and three scores last week along with two interceptions. Bryce Miller (10 catches, 128 yards) has caught three touchdown passes in the last two games while fellow sophomore receiver Johnny Ford (13, 149) is likely to sit out his second straight game due to a team suspension.
1. USF, which faces the Cougars for the first time, is tied for third in the nation in turnovers gained (14).
2. Bushman needs four receptions to become the eighth tight end in BYU history to reach 100 in his career.
3. Bulls TE Mitchell Wilcox (10 catches, 178 yards, three TDs) needs one receiving score to become the 11th in school history with at least 10.
PREDICTION: South Florida 31, BYU 21