South Florida gave Florida State a tough battle covering the spread last week while Maryland was upset at home by Bowling Green. Can there be another upset in College Park?
Conference affiliations may not mean much as the road underdogs out of the AAC could have nice value on Saturday when those South Florida Bulls (1-1, 2-0 ATS) pay a visit to the Maryland Terrapins (1-1, 1-1 ATS) out of the Big Ten at Byrd Stadium in College Park, MD at 12:00 Noon ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has South Florida as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -110.
Unimpressive Home Performance vs. MAC
Maryland opened up the season with a 50-21 romp over Richmond of the FCS, but the Terrapins allowed the sub-division quarterback from the Spiders to complete 60.0 percent of his passes for 220 yards, which may have been a red flag. Well, those concerns were confirmed when the Terps were upset at home by Bowling Green out of the MAC 48-27 last week while surrendering 491 passing yards and a distressing 692 yards overall!
South Florida opened up the season with a 51-3 annihilation of tiny Florida A&M of the FCS, but ironically the Bulls gained a lot more respect while being the losing college football pick vs. the ninth ranked Florida State Seminoles in hostile territory in Tallahassee in Week 2, as the South Florida defense held the Seminoles at bay for a little more than three quarters and the Bulls trailed just 24-14 early in the fourth before FSU pulled away late to win 34-14.
The point spread cover was never in doubt though with South Florida closing as a 28½-point underdog.
USF Seeking Revenge for Last Year
The Bulls are considerably smaller underdogs here in Maryland, but that is understandable given how well the Bulls played vs. a team that has lost one game in three years and also how porous the Maryland defense has looked thus far this early season. In fact, an outright upset is not beyond the realm of possibility as the Bulls seek revenge from last season when the Terrapins went on the road to South Florida and prevailed 24-17 in a hard-fought battle.
Furthermore, that was probably vs. a better Maryland team than this year while South Florida appears to be on the upswing. Remember that the Bulls won just two games two years ago and then doubled that win total with a 4-8 record last season.
Now the offense has changed form a smash-mouth running attack to more of an up-tempo spread offense, although it does still boast the reigning AAC Rookie of the Year at running back in Marlon Mack, and the defense has a very good back seven under new defensive coordinator Tom Allen, formerly of Mississippi, although the defensive line could use more of a pass rush.
Still, all in all the early returns seem positive and this now looks like a very winnable game for the Bulls.
New Quarterback for Maryland
So, after allowing 692 total yards to Bowling Green, what does Maryland do? Right, change quarterbacks! That again, there is really not much that can be done with a defense that lost virtually its entire front seven from a year ago except to allow the new youngsters to learn from their mistakes while going through the normal growing pains. Granted the best Maryland defender is returning safety Anthony Nixon, but the rest of the secondary also needs help.
But back to the quarterback position, Perry Hills has completed just 52.9 percent of his passes for a paltry 306 yards in two games with two interceptions while averaging only 6.0 yards per attempt. Thus, even his four touchdown passes are not enough to keep his job as Hills has now been benched with Caleb Rowe taking over as the starter.
The senior Rowe has had lots of chances before though as this is his fourth year with the team since seeing action as a true freshman back in 2012, and yet Rowe has been unable to distinguish himself despite ample opportunities. There is really no reason to expect much improvement here vs. a USF defense that just held the Seminoles’ Everett Golson to just 163 passing yards while completing 14-of-26 passes.
Holding Their Own vs. Big Ten
Finally, South Florida did cover the spread in the seven-point loss to Maryland last season as an 11-point underdog, continuing a trend that has now seen the Bulls go 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings with the Big Ten. South Florida is also 8-3 ATS in its last 11 road games after the cover at Tallahassee last week.
The underdogs from South Florida looked like the better of these two teams in Week 2, and that should make the Bulls basically an automatic play getting a touchdown as they look to continue their fine recent road ATS trend visiting Maryland on Saturday.
College Football Pick: South Florida +7 (-110)