Houston Cougars vs. South Florida Bulls
Date and Time: Saturday, October 28, 2017, 3:45 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Opening College Football Odds: South Florida -10
Houston vs. South Florida TV Coverage: ESPNU
If the Cougars let Memphis score 42 points and Tulsa score 45 points, how on Earth is it supposed to stop South Florida?
Teams have been silencing Ed Oliver, often putting the star defensive end in situations where he's being blocked by two or three players on a given play, and that's putting a slew of pressure on the rest of this defense. The Cougars have conceded over 400 yards in three consecutive games, and they're up to averaging 417.0 yards per game allowed this season, No. 90 in the nation.
It isn't helping that the team has had an identity crisis at quarterback. Tom Herman knew when the getting out was good, as he left the year that Greg Ward Jr. graduated. Kyle Postma has taken over and has largely been awful, throwing for just five touchdowns on 162 attempts.
South Florida's offensive efficiency is off the charts. Quinton Flowers isn't throwing the ball a ton, but why should he? South Florida could have three 1,000-yard rushers on the squad by the time this season is said and done with, and all three or Darius Tice, D'Ernest Johnson and Flowers could have 200+ carries, too. They've combined for over 1,800 rushing yards in seven games to go with a total of 21 rushing touchdowns.
48.2 – Houston's third down conversion percentage this season.
Houston ranks No. 14 in America in third down conversion percentage, and it excels in third and short situations. That said, this is a team that faces far too many third downs as it is.
The Cougars came across 232 third downs situations last year, the most in totality in the country (in fairness, Houston played in 14 games, two more than many teams and one more than most).
This year is much of the same. The Cougars have already faced 112 third downs this year, an average of 16 per game. It's one thing to be awesome on third downs; it's something else completely to still have to punt the ball as much as Houston does.
With a net punting average of just 37.83 yards per punt, the Cougars can't afford to get themselves into too many third downs in this game if they want to have a shot at this upset.
Houston vs. South Florida Free Picks
The Bulls haven't had a lot of tough games this year, and we wonder aloud just how well they're going to stand up to the pressure of playing against a good team that has its back to the wall. USF let Tulane stick around far too long last week in New Orleans, and this could be a similar game. Remember that the Bulls haven't scored a fourth quarter touchdown in either of their last two games.
A similar story this time around might end up yielding similar results. We'll take South Florida to get through to 8-0 and continue its march up the Top 25 rankings, but there should be just enough offense out of the Cougars to find a way to cover this number. This Houston team has been in bad form, but it's too good to be getting disrespected universally by all of the best college football sportsbooks.
College Football ATS Pick: Houston +10 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: South Florida 38, Houston 31