It’s been the talk of the town and, well, the nation. USF won its first Big East game.
Not only did they win, they won big, giving a stunning defeat to then-No. 9 Louisville (which dropped down to No. 24).
But now that seems like old news as, for the second week in a row, the Bulls will face the No. 9 team in the nation.
After Miami’s 23-3 win over Colorado, the Hurricanes moved up from No. 12 to No. 9, making it the first time USF has played back-to-back ranked teams. The Bulls also received seven votes in the AP Top-25 poll.
It won’t be easy for the Bulls, but the Hurricanes line up with two less players, as linebacker Darryl Sharpton and cornerback Randy Phillips will not play.
Miami’s offense is tough and is led by young sophomore quarterback Kyle Wright, who has three touchdowns, two interceptions and 648 passing yards in three games. With the departure of Frank Gore last season, Miami struggled to replenish its running game, which hasn’t been strong since the days of Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis, who now play with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins, respectively. Now, the Hurricanes are relying heavily on Tyrone Moss out of the backfield, who already has 285 yards and three touchdowns on 68 carries.
Leading the receiving core is Sinorice Moss – no relation to Tyrone, but is the younger brother of Santana Moss, a receiver for the Redskins – who has 10 receptions for 171 yards, and Greg Olsen, who has 13 catches also for 171 yards.
Miami’s defense is led by junior cornerback Brandon Meriweather, who has 30 tackles, an interception, four broken up passes and a fumble recovery. On special teams, Devin Hester is a speed threat to be reckoned with.
But the Bulls have proved they are no pushover.
After holding Louisville to 14 points, but also giving up 389 passing yards to quarterback Brian Brohm, the Bulls defensive rankings have dropped down to No. 26 for total defense, 35th in passing defense and 39th in rushing defense. Miami, however, is 25th in total defense.
All three levels of defense – the line, the linebacker and the secondary – have been performing much better than expected. Defensive end Terrence Royal has three and a half sacks, linebacker Ben Moffitt leads the team with 29 tackles and defensive back Mike Jenkins has three passes broken up – all three of them are returning from a defense which was ranked 77th in the nation in 2004.
The Bulls, as always, are anchored by running back Andre Hall in the backfield, who’s ninth in the nation in rushing with 466 yards and six touchdowns on 68 carries. Other notable running backs behind Hall are Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, Syracuse’s Adrian Rhodes, University of Southern California’s Reggie Bush and Louisville’s Michael Bush.
But USF has found themselves a new toy on offense, and receiver Amarri Jackson has finally proved why he deserves to be the No. 1 starting receiver. After a breakout game in which he scored three touchdowns – two rushing and one passing – Jackson has been the talk of the Big East, since he played basketball for Hillsborough Community College just a year ago.
Keep an eye on: Chad Simpson. The redshirt freshman returned the second-half opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown against Louisville. So while USF kicker Justin Teachey may consider kicking away from Hester on kickoffs, Miami’s kicker Brian Monroe, after seeing last Saturday’s highlights, might consider the same thing for Simpson.