The biggest game in USF history will be against West Virginia at Raymond James this Friday night. The Bulls will have their first sell out in history and are playing with their highest rank. USF and Tampa are ready for this game, but being ready may not be enough against a very good West Virginia team, that has one of the most high powered offenses in the NCAA. George Selvie and company will have their hands full against Pat White and Steve Slaton.
West Virginia comes in to Raymond James with the 9th ranked offense in the NCAA, including the 2nd ranked run offense. Everyone knows Heisman candidates Pat White and Steve Slaton, but it is the emergence of freshman running back Noel Devine and viable wide out Darius Reynaud that has made this mountaineer team more dangerous than years past. Pat White finally has a place to go with the ball in passing situations and Noel Devine provides another extremely fast player on the field to give Slaton a breather.
West Virginia is looking to avenge last years loss at home to USF, which cost them a shot at a BCS bowl game. They may have overlooked USF last year with Rutgers coming in the week later, but their is no way they are looking past USF this year in this huge game. With how bad Louisville has looked on defense, this game will determine the front runner for the Big East crown.
USF is having their best year for the program and are ranked for the first time in the history of the program. They had a huge victory earlier this year at Auburn and totally dominated UNC last week in what looked to be a perfect trap game. The Bulls have shown focus all year long and it will take everything Jim leavitt has to keep it that this week with how much attention the Bulls are finally getting. The whole Tampa bay area is excited for this game and due to ESPN, the nations eyes will be on the Bulls.
USF is lead by Sophomore quarterback Matt Grothe and running back Mike Ford on offense. Groethe can beat you with his arm or his legs and his play will determine the outcome of this game. Grothe did not have a great game last week, but the defense was able to make up for it. This week the defense will be in a tough spot against WVU and Groethe will need to make plays to keep drives going and make sure USF gets points on as many drives as possible. Ford will need to have a good game on the ground to allow open up the passing game for Groethe. Ford has been a nice surprise for the Bulls this season and he may be a difference maker in this game.
The defense will have it's toughest test of the whole season this week. The USF defense has been strong all year and have been able to get after the quarterback every game, but none of them have the mobility that Pat White does. USF sophomore defensive end George Selvie leads the nation i sacks, but had none last year when they played WVU and will find it tough this week as well. If the Bulls can keep WVU under 30 points they should be able to win the game. The Bulls forced WVU into turnovers last year, but Pat White was injured during that game and was highly ineffective. For the Bulls to be effective on defense they will need to get turnovers and stop the running game.
The key to this game for USF will be to minimize the WVU run game, while exploiting its weak defense. WVU has been terrible on defense most of the year and can be scored on, but they hard to keep off the score board. The Bulls play tough at home and have had some huge upsets at home in the past, including a dominating effort against Louisville. The Bulls will have their hands full this week against WVU, but they will have a huge stadium behind them and the nation watching them. The Bulls can create national attention to the program and help recruiting immensely with a win, but may be out of the top 25 with a loss. USF is great at home and does have a great team, but in the end WVU will be too much in my mind.
Final Prediction: WVU 38 - USF 34