The Orange defense is probably still sitting hands on knees trying to catch its breath from chasing around Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals performance elevated them to the number one offense in the NCAA. But Syracuse needs to find some oxygen quick because coming to the Dome is the nation’s second ranked offense, South Florida. USF handily beat the Orange 45-24 last October.
The Bulls are fresh off of two 31+ point victories. USF averages 658 yards per game, which is a country mile behind what SU allowed last week, but the Bulls could still post the video game numbers the Cardinals did. Quarterback Quinton Flowers doesn’t have the same eye-popping numbers as Jackson, but statistically sits in the top 30 of most categories. Flowers isn’t on the same talent level as Jackson, but he possesses a similar skillset to the Cardinals signal caller. Both are mobile and can make plays in the run game.
However, the offense is spearheaded by running back Marlon Mack. The junior has led the AAC in rushing in each of the past two seasons. Mack hasn’t had the electric season that he’s become accustomed to, but that’s because he missed last week against Northern Illinois with a concussion. The running back is probable to play this week against Syracuse and could have played last week if it were necessary, according to head coach Willie Taggart.
You may not see a number next to South Florida in the rankings, but the team does have nationwide respect. The Bulls received votes in the latest Coaches Poll and were on the outside looking in in the preseason AP Poll. The offense is dynamic and the defense is ranked in the top 30 in yards allowed. Vegas likes USF by 15 points over the Orange, which could lead to Louisville round two in the Dome. USF will likely hang 40+ on SU, but if Syracuse can exploit the other side of the ball, it can run with the Bulls and make for a competitive game.