|A key matchup when Syracuse faces South Florida on Saturday could be in the slot if Bulls DB Kayvon Webster lines up against Orange WR Alec Lemon. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN 3)
Spread: South Florida by 3
Watchability: Medium. Syracuse looks to avenge a 37-17 loss to South Florida last November. The Orange also hope to build on a 40-10 win over Connecticut on Friday when their balanced offense produced 251 rushing yards and also 251 passing. For South Florida, a 27-25 to Louisville on a late TD on Saturday may still sting. It was arguably the Bulls' best effort during their five-game losing streak.
Shining stars: Syracuse -- WR Alec Lemon. The Orange senior proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Huskies in the slot. Lemon had eight catches for a season-high 166 yards and a touchdown. Lemon had been slowed by a nagging hamstring injury early in the season. The emergence of Lemon gives Syracuse arguably the most potent 1-2 receiving duo in the league. Senior WR Marcus Sales is third in the Big East in receiving yards per game (77.9). South Florida -- RB Lindsey Lamar. The senior looked slippery last week vs. the Cardinals in making sharp cuts to elude defenders. Facing a Cardinals' defense that's only allowed 3.9 yards per carry, Lamar had 110 yards on 15 carries. He has been one of the few pleasant surprises for the Bulls. Lamar is averaging 5.8 yards per run but only has 56 carries. He could be featured more often over the final five games of the regular season.
Who could steal the show: Syracuse -- RB Jerome Smith. The junior had a season-high 133 yards on 19 carries against UConn. Smith has a tendency to get better as the game wears on. Coach Doug Marrone indicated this week that there are some cuts in his offense that Smith has needed to make a few times in a game before he executes them precisely. If the Orange can run the ball effectively down the stretch, their offense can be dangerous. South Florida -- WR Andre Davis. The receiver had a solid performance against the Cardinals with four catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns. Few receivers in the Big East can match Davis' combination of speed and strength. Marrone compares him favorably with former Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu, who led the conference with 115 receptions last season. Davis has the ability to turn a 2-yard completion into a 40-yard gain on one series and follow it with a 50-yard catch on a deep, vertical route on the next.
You going? Ranking the road trip: The Bulls have averaged more than 50,000 each in their three home games, but the figure is inflated by a strong turnout for last month's loss to Florida State. Even if the attendance is sparse, the weather should be nice in the Tampa area at kickoff. Temperatures may be in the 70s for most of the game.
Magic number for Syracuse: 11. The Orange have allowed 11.3 points per game in their three wins. In Syracuse's four losses, Marrone's team has surrendered an average of 31 points per game.
Magic number for South Florida: 27. The Bulls have held the ball just under 27 minutes per game and rank last in the conference in time of possession. Skip Holtz's team has to get off the field on third downs and avoid turnovers. When QB B.J. Daniels has had the ball, the offense has moved it effectively.
The game comes down to: Turnovers. The Bulls' average margin of defeat during their five-game losing streak is 7.6 points. Inopportune turnovers have made the difference. South Florida has 16 turnovers, including seven lost fumbles. The Orange also have been beset by turnovers. Syracuse is seventh in the conference with a minus-8 turnover margin. At minus-11, South Florida is the only team worse.
Prediction: Syracuse 31, South Florida 27
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