The Miami Hurricanes (5-5) head home after getting shocked by the Virginia Cavaliers for their fifth loss of the season. Stephen Morris and Co. still have a hold on the ACC Coastal lead but need to get on the right track with a win against South Florida.
The Bulls (3-6) lost B.J. Daniels for the season, but they have able backups that should be able to challenge the Miami secondary. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for the showdown in South Florida, so they’ll be raring to play spoiler.
For odds, keys to the game and predictions, keep reading.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio
Odds: (via Fox Sports Odds)
The Hurricanes have been in shootouts galore this season, so a seven-point spread makes a lot of sense if the ‘Canes are going to get a victory. The defense has been porous and has always allowed even middling teams like South Florida to hang around.
The question people who want to play these odds will have to ask is this: Can South Florida still contend down the stretch with a backup quarterback? They will hold the key to the totals discussion, because Miami won’t pass this number on their own.
After a bit of a letdown against Virginia last weekend, there may be some uncertainty about whether Miami will come home with an inspired effort. If they do, the seven points is merely a cushion.
Injury Report via USA Today (as of 11/15/2012)
John Lejiste, DB, Probable
Danous Estenor, G, Questionable
D’vario Montgomery, WR, Questionable
Derrick Hopkins, WR, Questionable
Willie Davis, RB, Questionable
Evan Landi, TE, Doubtful
B.J. Daniels, QB, Out for season
Lindsey Lamar, RB, Out for season
Eddie Johnson, LB, Questionable
Deon Bush, DB, Questionable
Denzel Perryman, LB, Questionable
Luckily for them, the Hurricanes still possess the inside track to their first ACC Championship Game. They have yet to play in the game since they joined the ACC less than a decade ago.
In addition, Miami has an outside shot at an Orange Bowl bid if it can win out and upset Florida State in the championship game. Certainly they have a ton to play for in what was thought to be a rebuilding year.
The Bulls need to win out to be bowl eligible, but will have an uphill climb to do it. Wins against Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with a backup quarterback may be too tall an order for South Florida.
Regardless of talent, though, Skip Holtz’s teams are always scrappy. They’ll have motivation to compete in Coral Gables.
Keys for South Florida Victory: Air It Out
The Bulls rely on the passing game for big plays, and they’ve had two weeks to decide on which quarterback will make the throws.
Looks like (at least publicly) we won't #USF starting QB until Sat at Miami. Eveld or Floyd? Holtz jokes about setting up boxing to decide— Joey Johnston (@JJohnstonTrib) November 14, 2012
Also with Lindsey Lamar out for the season, USF can’t be certain what they’ll get out of its running game. It makes it all the more important for Eveld and Floyd to carry the offense in this late-season matchup.
Eveld led the Bulls to a win over Miami in 2010 which led to then-coach Randy Shannon’s firing.
Keys for Miami Victory: Find Their Defense
A win over Virginia would have strengthened Miami’s case for the Coastal Division, but the ‘Canes defense gave up 41 points in a heartbreaking road loss.
If the defense merely comes to play and shuts down essentially the Bulls second-team offense, the Hurricanes will run to victory
If the defense allows this game to be competitive, though, it’s anybody’s game. The Canes offense can run up the scoreboard with Duke Johnson and Mike James out of the running game, as well as Stephen Morris and a band of receivers through the air.
Yet, if they have to get in a back-and-forth shootout like the Virginia game, they may have to wait for the ACC Championship Game another year.
Miami will be fired up to protect home field following the Virginia loss. If the Bulls had B.J. Daniels in this contest, it might end differently. Lucky for the 'Canes.
Miami 35 South Florida 27