There might be something to that old adage that warm-weather teams can’t win football games in the North come November or later.
There isn’t enough data on South Florida’s football team to prove that hypothesis because the Bulls have played only two games north of the Mason-Dixon Line in November since 2010, one a win at UConn last year and the other a loss at Rutgers in 2011.
There is more pertinent data that Temple can both take solace and base a game plan around and hopefully, the Owls’ brain trust is putting the finishing touches on that right now.
South Florida deserves a lot of respect coming into Lincoln Financial Field to face host Temple at high noon on Saturday.
The Bulls have a better overall record (7-3) than the Owls (6-4) and have one more Power 5 win than the Owls do (2-0 vs. 1-1) and did what they needed to do against their lone FCS opponent, a better team than Villanova: Blow them out.
That’s where the comparison should end, though, because the Bulls’ Kryptonite has led to their three consecutive losses and it’s a defensive line decimated by injuries and susceptible to the run.
Temple has plenty of Kryptonite in the form of a dynamite young offensive line and a savvy senior running back named Ryquell Armstead, who Houston coach Major Applewhite called “the hardest running back in our league to stop.”
Houston beat USF, 57-36, and Temple scored 59 on Houston.
Any game plan Temple designs for USF has to heavily involve that young offensive line and that savvy running back attacking the Bulls’ weakness.
USF head coach Charlie Strong touched on the lack of size within his front seven on defense. Strong pointed to the lack of size as a reason why opposing offenses have been able to get such a big push on the Bulls defensive line.
“When you get good on the defensive front, those guys are around 295-300 pounds,” Strong said. “Right now, those guys are 270-280. When you’re playing against a fifth-year senior and he’s 300-plus, they’re going to move you out of there. And that is what’s happening a lot of times on the runs. We get overpowered inside because you’re just not big enough.”
USF is going to bring the linebackers and safeties up to the line of scrimmage to cheat and try to help against Armstead. Even then, it might not be enough to stop the Owls but it does leave them vulnerable to the play-action passing game.
A few nice deft fakes by quarterback Anthony Russo into the belly of Armstead and then pulled out should be leaving Temple receivers running so free through the secondary that Russo will not know which guy to pick out.
That sounds like a plan. That sounds like the only plan.
Saturday: Tribute to the Seniors
Sunday: Game Analysis
Tuesday: The Answer Right Under Our Noses
Thursday: The Most Arrogant Fan Base
Sunday (11/25): Game Analysis
Tuesday: Playing AD
Thursday: An Argument That Can’t Be Won