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

Tigers battle Bulls

Patrick Taylor Jr. #6 and Brady White #3 of the Memphis Tigers celebrate after connecting on a one-yard touchdown pass against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first quarter of the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field on December 22, 2018 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. – No. 18 Memphis looks to take a step closer to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game when it travels to face league rival South Florida on Saturday. The Tigers are on a four-game winning streak, including last weekend's 45-27 win at Houston, while the Bulls have dropped two in a row, both at home, to Temple and No. 17 Cincinnati.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: USF +14

Memphis is in a three-way tie atop the American's West Division with SMU and Navy with two games to play in the regular season, though the Tigers own wins over both of those teams earlier this season. Quarterback Brady White is coming off a five-touchdown effort against Houston, giving him a career-high 28 touchdowns on the season. USF needs to win out to become bowl eligible but has seen its offense sputter over the last two weeks, totaling 24 points in its two losses. This despite quarterback Jordan McCloud setting a new career high in passing yards in each of the last two games, capped with a 267-yard effort against Cincinnati.

ABOUT MEMPHIS (9-1, 5-1 American)

Despite losing leading tackler Austin Hall to an injury last week -- his first missed start in three seasons -- the Tigers came up with their best defensive effort in a month, holding Houston to 27 points and 256 yards. Coach Mike Norvell pointed to the play of two linebackers as the key to that effort, Xavier Cullens -- who slid into Hall’s spot at inside linebacker -- and Thomas Pickens. Cullens finished last week’s game with a career-high nine tackles, while Pickens had his first two career sacks and forced a fumble, and both may need to step up again this week if Hall is still unable to go.

ABOUT USF (4-6, 2-4)

The Bulls want to slow down a high-powered Memphis offense, which usually starts with controlling the ball and eating up some clock to keep the Tigers off the field. In that quest, look for senior running back Jordan Cronkrite to get the ball plenty in the early going, as the Tigers allow 170.6 rushing yards per game. Cronkrite has been finding a little more rushing room of late after managing just 76 yards in the season’s first four games, averaging 101.7 yards over his last six contests.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Memphis K Riley Patterson became the fourth kicker in American Athletic Conference history to eclipse 300 career points, scoring nine in the win over Houston.

2. USF is tied for third in the country in takeaways with 22, recording at least one in every game this season.

3. Tigers WR Antonio Gibson leads the nation with 24.96 yards per catch this season.

PREDICTION: Memphis 38, USF 24