The Big East has it’s version of an midseason championship game this Thursday night on the big stage in front of the nation on ESPN. The highly praised match-up of unbeaten teams is expected to be a thriller when the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats travel down to Tampa Bay and take on the No. 21 South Florida Bulls.
Online PR News – 15-October-2009 – – The Big East has it’s version of an midseason championship game this Thursday night on the big stage in front of the nation on ESPN. The highly praised match-up of unbeaten teams is expected to be a thriller when the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats travel down to Tampa Bay and take on the No. 21 South Florida Bulls. The Bearcats head one of the most lethal passing offenses in America led by Tony Pike whose early season accomplishments have gotten him on the outskirts of Heisman ballots. If the Bearcats can run the table, Pike may receive a lot more Heisman attention.
However, the Bearcats meet up with a South Florida team that has really shocked most of the media this season. The Bulls lost their leader in QB Matt Grothe for the season from an injury suffered in just the 3rd game of the season. However, freshman B.J Daniels has stepped in and delivered. The Bulls have played very well this season and been excellent moneymakers at 4-1 ATS. The Bulls have captured wins over the likes of Florida State and also a win over Syracuse last week 34-20. The question now is will Daniels and the offense have enough fire power to keep up with the dangerous Bearcats offense.
One way South Florida can help control the Bearcats offense is from the play of their defense. The Bulls have a stout defense that ranks 10th in America holding opponents to just 263 yards per game. The defense has played exceptionally well against the pass as well which will be big this Thursday night. South Florida has allowed just 158 yards per game through the air despite taking on any big name quarterbacks outside of Florida State’s Christian Ponder who posted 269 yards against the Bulls defense.
On offense, Daniels is just as much a running threat as he is with his arm. Daniels leads the team in rushing after just 3 starts carrying the ball 48 times for 291 yards. The young talent has also thrown for 602 yards, 6 scores, and 2 picks. Carlton Mitchell is an excellent receiver and could be poised for a big game if this game is to turn into a shootout. However, the Bulls chances of winning this game will be greatly increase if the game stays rather low scoring. South Florida defense will give them a shot, but the offense will have to make some plays and keep the Bearcats offense off the field.
Cincinnati sports one of the best offenses in the country. The Bearcats are averaging 469 yards per game (11th in FBS) and also 329 yards passing per contest (6th in FBS). Pike has been beyond good throwing for 1,649 yards with 13 scores and 3 picks while maintaining a strong 67% completion percentage. Pike’s favorite target is WR Marshwan Gilyard. Gilyard is a name you may really hear a lot climb up the NFL Draft boards by season end. The talented senior posts some extreme quickness and a knack for getting behind safeties. Gilyard already has 7 touchdowns on the season with 517 receiving yards and it is safe to say the Bulls secondary will have to have a close reach on him at all times.
Of course the Bearcats duo of running backs between Jacob Ramsey and Isaiah Pead give the team some balance. Both tailbacks are averaging 6 yards per carry and have 3 scores a piece with a very small amount of touches due to their tendency to keep the ball in the air. However just when the defense starts dropping back, these two guys can pop a big gain on any given carry. The Bearcats offense needs to get off to a good start and put pressure on South Florida to score quickly. The Bulls defense has yet to yield a lot of points and if the Bearcats can make a few scores early, it will force Daniels to throw the ball much more which will put the advantage to the Bearcats. In fact, that particular scenario is likely going to play out this Thursday night.
BangTheBook.com football pick of the week, take the Cincinnati Bearcats -3