Tampa Bay Sports Day

BEAIRD: USF Looks to Bounce Back Against Bearcats

Photo by Nancy Beecher/Florida Sports Wire

Sports Day college football columnist Brent Beaird previews this weekend’s matchups.

USF (3-1) HOSTS CINCINNATI (3-1): USF quarterback Quinton Flowers gained 159 rushing yards on 18 carries in the loss to FSU. The Bulls rushed for 290 yards and passed for 160. USF gained 450 yards on 55 plays averaging 8.2 yards per play.

In last weeks game against Miami of Ohio, Cincinnati rallied to win 27-20 despite its regular quarterback, sophomore Hayden Moore, being out with an injured ankle. Redshirt freshman Ross Trail threw for 276 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Trail threw two interceptions.

FLORIDA (3-1) AT VANDERBILT (2-2): Perspective is needed here for fans after Florida was humbled last week in Knoxville. Tennessee plays at Georgia, at Texas A&M then hosts Alabama in its next three games. The Vols could lose two of those games.

Florida will beat Vandy because the Commodores won’t score more than two touchdowns against the Gator defense. Florida must get its offense untracked. They looked super in the first half against Tennessee then couldn’t generate anything in the second half. Quarterback Austin Appleby looked sharp in the first half connecting on deep throws to Antonio Callaway and then Tyrie Cleveland.

The Gators racked up 21 points and 300 total yards by halftime. In the second half, Tennessee made key adjustments defensively, while Florida was stagnant. The run game bogged down forcing the Gators to throw too often. The offensive play-calling also became conservative after the Florida coaches were much more aggressive in the first half.

Vanderbilt had a big 31-30 win in overtime at Western Kentucky. The Commodores drove the length of the field to tie WKU in regulation then won in overtime. Vandy running back Ralph Webb,who is from Gainesville, Fla., finished the game with 87 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Shurmur passed for 279 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

FLORIDA STATE (3-1) HOSTS NORTH CAROLINA (3-1): After rebounding with a 55-35 win against South Florida, the schedule gets tougher this week against UNC before a road game next week at Miami.

FSU running back Dalvin Cook is off the milk carton after he gained a career-best 267 yards and two touchdowns last week. FSU rushed 63 times for 478 yards. Cook will be running against an UNC rush defense that allows nearly 250 yards per game.

FSU’s defense must regroup after allowing USF 450 yards on 55 plays (8.2 yards per play). Over the last two games, FSU has given up 98 points and 980 yards of offense. Louisville averaged 8.0 yards per play and USF averaged 8.2.The Noles defense will have its hands full with Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky and running back Elijah Hood.

Trubisky hit Bug Howard for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left to give North Carolina a 37-36 victory over Pittsburgh last Saturday. Trubisky completed 35 of 46 pass attempts for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns against no interceptions.

Receiver Ryan Switzer had a career-high 208 receiving yards on a career-high 16 receptions. Switzer also has seven career punt returns for touchdowns.

MIAMI (3-0) AT GEORGIA TECH (3-1): The Canes were off last week no doubt preparing for the Yellow Jacket triple option attack. Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has not seen a triple option since his first year as an assistant with NC State in 2002 when they played first year Navy coach Paul Johnson. Coach Mark Richt was 13-2 against the Yellow Jackets at Georgia.

The Yellow Jackets were very inept in their Thursday night 26-7 loss against Clemson’s defense. Clemson finished with a 442-124 lead in total yards. Tech ended up with a woeful 124 yards of offense on 52 plays. The Yellow Jackets again 102 yards in the second half. Georgia Tech has beaten Boston College, Mercer and Vanderbilt.

UCF (2-2) AT EAST CAROLINA (2-2): UCF destroyed FIU last week 53-14 on the strength of six rushing touchdowns. Running back Dontravious Wilson scored three times. UCF had 501 total yards of offense. The Knights held FIU to just 189 total yards of offense. FIU punted nine times.

The Pirates lost 54-17 to Virginia Tech last week. ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense. They also made three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times. ECU beat the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.