GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – When No. 18 South Florida comes to Greenville it will be a battle for first place in the American Athletic Conference East Division. Both ECU and USF were the only teams in the division to pick up a victory last week (Cincinnati has not played a conference game yet in 2017).
South Florida comes in averaging 40.8 which is fourth best in the conference. Meanwhile ECU has the second worst scoring defense in the nation giving up 48 points per game. Only Louisiana has given up more at 53.8 points per game.
The Bulls are led by dual threat senior quarterback Quinton Flowers. Flowers averages 75.5 rushing yards per game and 193.5 passing yards per game. The Pirates have faced a lot of different styles of quarterbacks so far this season, but coach Scottie Montgomery says they haven’t seen a passing attack quite like USF.
“They are so uniquely different,” said Montgomery. “The passing game for other people has been used totally different than the passing game for USF, very different, but athletic talent all over the place.”
But the Bulls are a complete team with a strong defense that tends to get overlooked. USF ranks third in the conference in scoring defense giving up just 17.2 points per game which is greatly improved from a year ago in which they surrendered 31.6 points per game. A big reason for that is the Bulls ability to take away the football. They have already have 12 interceptions on the year which is the best in the nation. Utah and Central Michigan are the next closes with nine.
USF head coach Charlie Strong credits the big turn around to the defense getting tired of hearing how good the offense was.
“It was more about them wanting to send a message because of the way they played last season and it was more like our offense carried them and they didn’t do their part,” said Strong. “But, just to watch the way they are playing right now and you have to play with a chip on your shoulder and show on defense, especially, you have to have an edge to you and we have that edge.”
USF is as much as 23 point favorites according to some odds makers heading into Saturday’s contest. Kickoff between the Bulls and the Pirates is set for noon.