Texas Tech vs. South Florida
Saturday, 9 am PT - ESPN
CRIS Opener: South Florida -2 O/U 64.5
CRIS Current: South Florida -3 O/U 65.5
Recommendation: South Florida
On paper, there looks to be plenty of potential for points in the Birmingham Bowl with a pair of squads that rank in the top 30 in both ppg and ypg. However, with a 90% chance of rain expected, conditions could impact the amount of offense that is produced. Defensively, Texas Tech made strides this season. After allowing over 7 ypp in 2016, the Red Raiders shaved off nearly 1.5 ypp. That tied into a massive 11.7 ppg allowed improvement. But this defense still had problems, particularly against upper-tier offenses. Arizona State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma averaged over 45 ppg against the Red Raiders. In the end, TTU’s stop unit, while no longer horrific, is still well below average. You could certainly make a case that USF is on par with those four aforementioned offenses. The key for the Bulls is balance and they have that in spades with dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers in charge. The USF offense generated over 240 ypg through the air, and more importantly 265 ypg on the ground which could come in very handy should weather become an issue.
Defensively, USF was tops in AAC play at 4.78 ypp and 349.8 ypg allowed. They wouldn't be able to produce those types of numbers in the Big XII but I still give the Bulls' stop unit the edge in this matchup. USF held UCF's prolific offense to a very respectable 6.3 ypp; over a yard below the Knight's season average. Despite the loss (UCF hit on a 95-yard kickoff return to win it) the Bulls outgained the Knights 653-533. Also important to note that Texas Tech's defensive success was in large part due to turnovers (27 gained). They ranked near the bottom nationally in both sacks and tackles for loss. South Florida was one of the better teams at hanging onto the football with only 11 lost turnovers for the season. I recommend a play on the Bulls with dicey weather helping strengthen our chances.