2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Ball State at USF
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Sept. 10 at South Florida 37 … Ball State 7
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) TAMPA, Fla. -- Any lingering questions Skip Holtz had about how No. 22 South Florida might handle being ranked for the first time in nearly two years were answered on the first play of a 37-7 rout of Ball State.
Taking up where they left off in forcing five turnovers during a surprising 23-20 season-opening victory at Notre Dame, the Bulls knocked the ball loose from Ball State's Phil Dudley on the opening kickoff. Mark Joyce picked up the fumble and ran 17 yards to put USF ahead just 8 seconds into the game.
"As a coach, it's kind of nice to have that in your hip pocket," Holtz said. "This team was ready to play."
Kayvon Webster's 96-yard, first-quarter fumble return got the Bulls rolling against Notre Dame. The fastest TD in USF's relatively brief football history dropped Ball State (1-1), which did not have a turnover in its season opener against Indiana, into a hole that the overmatched Cardinals would not come close to escaping.
B.J. Daniels threw for a career-best 359 yards, including a 20-yard TD pass to Victor Marc, and Demetri Murray scored on a 2-yard run that helped USF (2-0) build a 30-0 halftime lead while outgaining the Cardinals 386 yards to 76. When the Bulls had difficulty finishing drives, Maikon Bonani delivered field goals of 31, 24 and 38 yards.
"I thought that was pretty impressive in the first half. I thought that was as complete a half as we've played since I've been here," said Holtz, in his second season at the Big East school. The Bulls, 8-5 a year ago, are ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since November 2009.
"We always talk about how it's not about who we play, but how we play," Holtz said. "That's what we can control."
Players and fans observed a moment of silence before the game for Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, the former Oklahoma and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end who died last week after suffering a stroke. Selmon was USF's athletic director in the 1990s, when the Bulls started one of the nation's fastest-growing college football programs from scratch.
The Bulls attended a memorial service for Selmon on Friday, and the university's board of trustees has approved renaming the school's athletic facility the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center. Players will wear No. 63 decals on their helmets, as well as the initials LRS on their uniforms, for the remainder of the season.
Ball State beat Indiana 27-20 in its debut under former Lehigh and Elon coach Pete Lembo, rushing for 210 yards and getting a superb passing performance from Keith Wenning to beat an opponent from a BCS conference for just the second time.
Until USF began substituting heavily in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had little success throwing or running the ball against a defense that allowed 508 yards to Notre Dame.
Wenning marched his team into Bulls territory just twice before Jahwan Edwards swept left end on a 13-yard, fourth-quarter scoring run that finished a nine-play, 77-yard TD drive that was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out an interception.
"You've got to give credit to their defense. They're a lot faster than what we're used to," Wenning said. "The hard part about not moving the ball is their up-front defensive line. They brought blitzes. They beat us up front the majority of the time. Their speed and their strength up front is what got us."
Daniels, who did not play in the fourth quarter, completed 28 of 39 passes and was intercepted once. Darrell Scott led USF with 82 yards rushing, the highlight a 1-yard, third-quarter TD run in which he hurdled a defender to get into the end zone.
Wenning was 24 of 35 for 148 yards and no interceptions, but the sophomore quarterback lost two fumbles. Edwards was Ball State's leading rusher with 41 yards on seven attempts and the Cardinals finished with 225 yards of total offense -- 93 of those coming in the final quarter.
"It's kind of humbling compared to last week," Wenning said, "so we've just got to take each game one at a time and move on to the next game."
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Ball State (1-0) at South Florida (1-0) Sept. 10, 7:00, ESPN3.com
Here’s The Deal … Ball State and South Florida enter Week 2 with similar goals—put signature wins behind them and refocus as quickly as possible on the job at hand. The Bulls traveled to South Bend last Saturday and took full advantage of the increased exposure, defeating Notre Dame, 23-20. Ranked No. 22 in the AP Poll, and firmly on the national radar, USF has now knocked off Miami, Clemson and the Irish in its last four games dating back to last November. The Cardinals delivered their own breakthrough win in the Hoosier State on opening weekend, surprising the Big Ten’s Indiana in Lucas Oil Stadium. Entering the season with no expectations and last year’s 4-8 mark hanging around their neck like an albatross, the Cardinals went out and channeled the 2008 squad that won a dozen games.
Why Ball State Might Win: New head coach Pete Lembo couldn’t dream up a better start to his tenure in Muncie. His Cardinals committed no turnovers and dominated at the line of scrimmage. The chief beneficiary was dual-threat QB Keith Wenning, who rushed for 61 yards, threw for 173 yards and accounted for three touchdowns. Ball State’s version of South Florida QB B.J. Daniels, Wenning is a playmaker surrounded by a vastly improved backfield. Barrington Edwards and Jahwan Edwards may be young, but the pair has already proven to be talented and mature beyond their tender years.
Why South Florida Might Win: The Bulls are not the Hoosiers. Sure, Ball State piled up nearly 400 yards last weekend, but South Florida won’t be nearly as generous. The D is big, very fast and battle-tested after surviving the Notre Dame game. USF is especially ornery up front and on the second level. Ends Ryne Giddins and Patrick Hampton will make sure that Wenning has just a split second to set his feet and find a downfield receiver. Linebackers DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington will corral the Cardinals backs, ensuring that they don’t earn yards after contact. When the Bulls swarm to the ball, they like to strip it, creating game-changing turnovers.
What To Watch Out For: Week 2 is a time that South Florida would like to start cranking up the offense, particularly the ground game. The Bulls hit a wall in South Bend, managing just 126 yards on 42 carries. However, Ball State doesn’t figure to present nearly as much of a roadblock. With Daniels at the controls and Skip Holtz calling the shots, USF may never be a potent passing team. It does, however, want to establish a presence between the tackles, which will be an invitation for Demetris Murray and Colorado transfer Darrell Scott to each motor for at least 75 yards on the ground.
What Will Happen: Even more so than Ball State, South Florida will be susceptible to a letdown this Saturday night. The program invested a lot of energy in the opener with Notre Dame. The Cardinals are confident and more talented than first blush, making for a competitive first 30 minutes of action. The Bulls, though, will pull away with a defensive score in the second half, exercising their considerable edge in size and speed. By the fourth quarter, Ball State will be completely worn out trying to drag Daniels, Scott and Murray to the Raymond James Stadium grass.
CFN Prediction: South Florida 37 … Ball State 13
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