Gameday is here: Last USF-Syracuse links
Gameday is here, but "College Gameday" is in Boston -- not entirely sure why, but the ESPN folks will chat about Florida State and Boston College and likely give some more national exposure to USF's big win last week.
On Friday night, ESPN's Desmond Howard picked Syracuse for his "Upset Special," seeing USF coming off a big win and perhaps looking ahead to an Oct. 15 showdown with Cincinnati.
"Jim Leavitt's team had a huge victory last week against Florida State, 17-7, but they've had a tendency to have big wins and then a major letdown down the road," he said. "My concern is that they're looking over Syracuse and toward that big Oct. 15 matchup against the Bearcats of Cincinnati. That's going to be a huge game." ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said "I love that one" as upsets go.
I don't know that those analysts are looking at much more than the context of the game for USF -- after a big win, on the road, before a big game, which all could contribute to a different showing for the Bulls.
Statistically, USF would have to play very poorly on offense -- more turnovers than they've shown a tendency for in four games, for instance -- to give Syracuse a real shot at an upset. The Bulls are facing a pass defense that's actually worse than Florida State's -- No. 117 out of 120 schools in yards allowed, giving up 310.5 yards per game, with 11 passing touchdowns given up. USF, by comparison, hasn't given up one this season.
The biggest advantage for USF's defense might be on third down -- Syracuse is again the fourth-worst team in Division I-A football on third down, successful 20 percent of the time, and USF has the toughest third-down defense in the nation, holding opponents to 19.2 percent. Syracuse will have to convert better to keep control of the ball and keep USF's offense off the field.
One more thing -- I'm reading about Greg Paulus' elusiveness, but I think that's a presumption because he's a guard and should be quick on his feet. That's true, but his longest run in four games is 10 yards, and over four games, he's totaled minus-26 yards, unable to make up for the ground lost on sacks. He should be less of a running threat than FSU's Christian Ponder was last week.Links ...
-- The Hartford Courant's Desmond Courant looks at the supposed bias against the Big East in the polls -- I told him I think the league hasn't gotten much attention because USF's win at FSU is the conference's only one against a ranked team so far.
-- The Lakeland Ledger wrote its preview about Paulus and the novelty of his two-sport success, much like we did today.
-- ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel writes about the need for solid backup quarterbacks and mentions USF.
-- Syracuse has a great blog in "Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician" -- impressed to see three predictions there all calling for a USF win, if a close one.
-- The Osceola News-Gazette says USF's upset of FSU "broke the state" of Florida in one day.