South Florida and Nevada are both looking to build their résumés and make a case for being a top-25 team, and a victory will help both teams move up the rankings.
The Bulls went 1-6 in the Big East last season and they will be looking to prove that they will not be their conference’s punching bag again this season. Nevada went 5-2 in the WAC last season, but the Wolf Pack will face tougher competition this year in the Mountain West Conference.
Both teams started their seasons with a win, and the players will have plenty of confidence as the teams take the field.
Here is everything you need to know about the game.
Where: Mackay Stadium, Reno, Nv.
When: Saturday, September 8, 3:35 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS Sports Network
Live Stream: CBS Sports ULive
Listen: 98.7 The Fan (South Florida), ESPN Radio 94.5 FM (Nevada)
Betting Line: Nevada -1 according to Sports Book
South Florida Injury Report (via USA Today)
The Bulls have no significant injuries to report.
Nevada Injury Report (via USA Today)
Anthony Knight—the freshman running back is questionable for this game with a shoulder injury.
Nigel Westbrooks—the junior wide receiver is out for the season with a torn ACL.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
Both team’s are certainly on the radar of AP voters, but neither has cracked the Top 25 this season. Starting the season 2-0 likely would not be enough to jump into the rankings, but it would certainly be a large step towards accomplishing that goal.
If either of these teams win on Saturday then goes on to start the season with a few more victories, the victor certainly could be ranked among the top teams in the country.
What They’re Saying
ESPN’s Matt Fortuna noted that USF quarterback B.J. Daniels must continue to find players in the end zone, but also limit his mistakes this week.
The senior completed 17-of-26 passes for 265 yards and had four total touchdowns, but he also threw an interception and fumbled on a sack, which led to 10 Chattanooga points.
It was still more than enough in a 34-13 Bulls win over the Mocs, as USF built an 18-point first-half lead and took it from there. But Daniels will have to be more careful offensively next week when the Bulls travel to Nevada, fresh off an upset of Cal.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Jim Crumpacker provides a statistical breakdown to show how effective Nevada’s offense was against Cal. If the Wolf Pack have similar success on Saturday, it will likely lead to another win.
Once again the Bears' defense was revealed to be a unit that just could not stop Nevada's triple-option pistol offense, or even slow it down, as the Pack pounded Cal for 450 yards on 89 plays, an average of 5.1 yards per snap over 35 minutes of possession domination.
South Florida Player to Watch: B.J. Daniels
The Bulldogs’ success hinges on Daniels. The senior quarterback is coming off a season where he passed for 2,604 yards and 13 touchdowns while running for 601 yards and six more scores.
South Florida looked impressive to start the season but then tanked late in the year. For the team not to repeat last year’s collapse, Daniels will need to lead in the huddle and by example.
Nevada Player to Watch: Stefphon Jefferson
Jefferson destroyed the Cal defense for 145 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries in Nevada’s first game. If he has another performance like this, the Wolf Pack will be well on their way to a 2-0 record.
Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Jefferson learned that his family had been in a car accident on the way to the game, and that his brother was in the hospital and required surgery. Everyone involved in the accident survived, and this was truly a remarkable performance under difficult conditions by Jefferson.
Key Matchup: South Florida Front Seven vs. Nevada Triple Option
Nevada proved against Cal how devastating it can be in its triple-option offense. To win this game, South Florida must win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
The Bulldogs have questions along the defensive line, but have a strong corps of linebackers. Every member of the front seven must react quickly and tackle well in order to give their team a chance.
Key Storyline: Road to the Top 25
Both teams are on the outside looking in at the teams honored with a place in the AP Top 25 poll. It may take more than one more win, but each of these teams has the potential to feature in the rankings at some point this season.
The losing team will experience a serious setback, and both teams will fighting to keep their perfect season and chance to improve their standing alive.
Prediction: Nevada 33, South Florida 30
As the odds show, this game is essentially a toss-up. A home crowd and momentum from a big win will give the Wolf Pack just enough to earn a close victory.