The No. 18 Memphis Tigers (9-1) will be heading on the road again, this time traveling to Tampa, Florida, to face the South Florida Bulls (4-6). This will be the Tiger’s final away game of the regular season before wrapping up their season at home against Cincinnati.
This will be the first time that the Tigers and Bulls have faced off since 2016, where South Florida won the game 49-42 in Memphis.
At the time, the Bulls were led by the nation’s fifth-ranked running game as well as its eighth-ranked offense in terms of total yards.
Now three years later, they are in a much different place statistically but still a competitive team.
Mike Norvell has talked to the media about what he has seen from USF in recent weeks and knows that this game is not just going to be a walk-in the park.
“The last two weeks, they’ve had unbelievable battles,” Norvell said. “This is a team that has talent. They are one of the best defenses in our conference. They are playing with a young quarterback that has all of the talent in the world.”
In the Tigers’ last game, they traveled to Houston to play the Cougars. After a competitive first half that ended with the Tigers having a slight advantage, 28-20. The Tigers’ defense stepped up and helped the group to separate itself in the second half to win the game 45-27.
Brady White led the offensive in impressive fashion when he scored a combined six touchdowns and threw for 341 yards, his second straight game with over 300 passing yards.
Per usual, the running game played a big role, with seven rushers combining for 164 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown.
The biggest development of the running game, however, was the return of senior running back, Patrick Taylor Jr., who rushed for 14 yards on five carries in his first game back since the season opener.
Defensively, the group managed to get over their bad start where they allowed 207 total yards in the first half (93 of them rushing the ball) and held the Cougars to just 49 yards in the second half, including a measly six rushing yards.
Their biggest highlight came in the third quarter though when linebacker, Thomas Pickens forced a strip-sack on Houston’s quarterback, Clayton Tune.
That play led to another Tigers’ touchdown that made the score 42-20.
The Bulls last game was a nail-bitter against the former No. 17 Cincinnati Bearcats that came down to a last-second field goal that won the Bearcats the game, 20-17.
USF freshman quarterback, Jordan McCloud, played an efficient game where he completed 18 of his 27 pass attempts for 267 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 13 yards.
Defensively, they made things difficult for Bearcats quarterback, Desmond Riddler by sacking him four times, forcing him to fumble and limiting him to just 78 passing yards, with 30 of them coming on one play.
The same cannot be said for their run defense, which allowed 200 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Though the Bulls have been competitive in recent weeks, I do not see them being that competitive in Saturday’s matchup.
The Tigers’ offense has been nearly unstoppable in recent weeks, and for an offense like USF’s that averages just 19.8 points per game, I can see this getting ugly very quickly.
What will be the catalyst for the Tigers, I believe, is the usage of Taylor Jr. I am sure that Norvell wants to make sure that he is fully healthy before he begins to increase his touches, but it is hard to dispute his strong running ability.
Score Prediction: Memphis 48-17 USF