Very little went right for South Florida in its first season under then-rookie coach Willie Taggart, with one of the few exceptions being how it played at the start of its conference schedule. The Bulls on Friday look to win their American Athletic Conference opener for the second straight season when they host Connecticut. South Florida went 2-10 in 2013 – the worst campaign in its 17-year football history – but managed to defeat Cincinnati and the Huskies to begin league play last October.
The Bulls did not score an offensive touchdown in either victory and have only tallied one in each of their last two losses since freshman Marlon Mack rushed for four by himself in a season-opening win over Western Carolina. Connecticut also secured its only victory against an FCS foe in Stony Brook, although it was able to frustrate undefeated Brigham Young in its opener and played Boise State tight through three-plus quarters last Saturday. The Huskies and Bulls have met every year since 2005 and each of the former Big East rivals’ last seven meetings has been decided by seven points or fewer.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: South Florida -2
ABOUT CONNECTICUT (1-2): First-year coach Bob Diaco was pleased with his defense despite giving up 38 points last week as it held Boise State 245 yards below its season average in total offense and limited Broncos’ running back Jay Ajayi 113 yards under his season rushing average. "The defense, playing basically the same system they played in week one, looked nothing like it looked in week one. I'm proud of the way that they played today," Diaco said. Chandler Whitmer became the eighth player in program history to surpass 4,000 passing yards after throwing for a season-high 209 last week.
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (1-2): The Bulls have played eight freshmen this season and two have already left a mark on the offensive end, including Mack’s AAC-record 275 yards rushing yards in the opener. In last weekend’s 49-17 loss to North Carolina State, it was Ryeshene Bronson’s turn as the freshman receiver collected two catches for 80 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter. Andre Davis, who led South Florida with 49 catches and 735 yards last season, remains questionable after suffering a bruised sternum against Western Carolina.
1. South Florida’s victory at Connecticut last year marked only the second time in 11 all-time meetings that the home team did not win.
2. Huskies WR Geremy Davis, who became the seventh player in school history to eclipse 2,000 career receiving yards last week, has a reception in 29 straight contests – tied for the 12th-longest streak in FBS.
3. The Bulls are tied for second in FBS with 10 takeaways, collecting at least one fumble and interception in every game.
PREDICTION: Connecticut 19, South Florida 16