SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (0-0)
at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (0-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Notre Dame -10, Total: 46.5
Notre Dame opens its BCS Bowl-hopeful season against Big East contender South Florida. This marks the first ever meeting between these two schools. South Florida is really an underrated program with 42 wins in the past five seasons, eight more than Notre Dame has.
USF’s rushing offense is going to be excellent this year with returning junior Demetris Murray (6 total TD, 4.4 YPC), and bulked-up transfers Darrell Scott (Colorado) and Dontae Aycock (Auburn). The key to USF hanging around in South Bend is for returning QB B.J. Daniels to make good decisions. The Bulls were 17th in the nation in total defense (318 YPG) and also have the depth in the secondary to contain Notre Dame star wideout Michael Floyd. The Irish will win this game, but not by double-digits. The pick is SOUTH FLORIDA. Football odds.
The FoxSheets provide this four-star trend in support of the Bulls.
Play Against – Any team (NOTRE DAME) – in the first week of the season, after closing out last season with 3 or more straight spread covers, team that had a good record last season (60% to 80%) playing a team that had a winning record. (23-2 since 1992.) (92%, +20.8 units. Rating = 4*). NFL scores.
The Bulls are coming off an 8-5 season, but they were very fortunate with the final four wins coming by a total of 12 points. Daniels (11 TD, 13 INT) needs to improve in a big way for head coach Skip Holtz to opt to throw the football more. The defense returns six starters to a unit that finished among the top 25 in the nation in scoring defense (20.0 PPG), rushing defense (126 YPG) and passing defense (192 YPG).
A 7-2 finish to 2010 gives the Irish momentum for 2011. QB Dayne Crist (2,033 pass yds, 15 TD, 7 INT) is fully healed from his ruptured patella tendon and was named the starter late in the preseason. Star WR Michael Floyd (79 rec, 1,025 yds, 12 TD) was re-instated to the team in August after initially being suspended for driving under the influence. TB Cierre Wood (603 rush yds) should be able to gain some yards on the ground behind a solid offensive line. On defense, the Irish front four needs to do a better job pressuring the quarterback. However, the LBs are excellent, especially ILB Manti Te’o (133 tackles, 9.5 TFL) and OLB Darius Fleming (5.5 sacks). NFL spreads.