This is undoubtedly the game of the week in the Big East, for the Panthers it means staying at the top of the conference standings and putting that Connecticut loss in the rear view. For the Bulls, it is finally getting over that hump and competing for the Big East in December. In the past few seasons, USF has started strong only to finish miserably and have fans questioning whether they were actually practicing. Not this year, Skip Holtz has the Bulls fighting in the second half of the season and has the Bulls in contention for a Big East title. That is what is on the line this week for the Bulls, not the championship yet, but the right to keep fighting for it for another week. Win or go home plain and simple, baring a miracle a three-loss team will not win the Big East. Here are some keys that will help the Bulls inch closer to that elusive Big East title.
Hold onto the ball.
The one thing that gets the Bulls and quarterback B.J. Daniels in trouble is turnovers. There is a direct correlation between USF winning games and the +/- in the turnovers column, it is a fact. It all starts with Daniels; this Bulls team is extremely talented and can perform beautifully as long as Daniels is sharp. This team depends on him week in and week out and I don’t know if you have noticed, but Daniels has been sharp. Daniels has accounted for seven touchdowns and just two interceptions in the last three games for the Bulls. He also has led the Bulls on two gaming drives in the last two games to keep the Big East hopes alive. He will have his hands full this week with a stout Pitt defense.
Slow down Pittsburgh’s speedy offense.
Once again, defense will be key; the Bulls have to keep the Panthers to a low scoring contest. Pittsburgh scores early and often so the Bulls defense will have to own the line of scrimmage and keep their offense off the field. The Panthers offense is led by running backs Ray Graham and Dion Lewis, the two have combined for 1316 yards and 15 touchdowns. Adding to the speed is WR Jon Baldwin who has five touchdowns and over 600 yards receiving on the year. If the Bulls want to keep the winning streak intact, they will have to slow these three playmakers down.
This is a big one for the Bulls and with an expected crowd over 40,000; the stadium will be buzzing. Game time is set for noon at Raymond James Stadium. As always, Bulls fans stay tuned.
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