Stuckey’s Temple-USF Betting Pick: Will Bulls Cover as Home Underdogs?

Stuckey’s Temple-USF Betting Pick: Will Bulls Cover as Home Underdogs? article feature image
Credit:

Tim Heitman, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Anthony Russo

  • According to the latest betting odds, the South Florida Bulls are slight home underdogs in their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Temple Owls (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
  • Check out Stuckey's betting pick and analysis for the matchup, including whether you should trust Temple as a road favorite.

Temple at South Florida Odds

  • Spread: Temple -1.5
  • Over/Under: 49
  • Time: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

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We have an interesting AAC matchup on Thursday night between two teams coming off of a bye.

South Florida has quietly been playing much better football after a horrid 0-2 start to the year. The Bulls have won four of their last six games and their only two losses came against Navy and SMU.

One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround has been the change at quarterback, with Jordan McCloud taking over for Blake Barnett. The passing offense is still struggling, but McCloud fits much better with offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell’s rush-heavy attack.

South Florida can really run the ball. The Bulls, led by Jordan Cronkrite, average 5.0 yards per carry, which ranks 37th in the nation. The Bulls have been even better than that lately, averaging over seven yards a carry in their last four games (which includes their games against Navy and SMU).

It’s also worth noting that McCloud was dealing with some injuries in October but is apparently now 100% healthy. The bye certainly helped in that regard.

The offensive line should get a lot of credit for South Florida’s ground game. As a unit, the Bulls rank seventh in line yards (a measurement of OL success in run game), per Football Outsiders.

The Owls have really struggled on offense despite having a solid quarterback in Anthony Russo and some talented players at the skill positions. The problem is that Temple’s offensive line ranks 116th in line yards, which is limiting their rushing attack to a paltry 3.5 yards per rush, which ranks 110th in FBS.

That’s good news for an opportunistic USF defense that is better overall against the pass. Temple will still hit a few explosive plays through the air, but I expect Russo to turn it over against the Bulls. Only Illinois has forced more turnovers than USF and Temple has turned the ball over 15 times.

Temple’s 5-3 record looks decent, but let’s take a deeper look at the wins to see if we can make more sense of this team:

  • East Carolina
  • Georgia Tech
  • Bucknell
  • Maryland
  • Memphis

The only two impressive wins on that list are Maryland and Memphis and those were both coin flips.

The Owls needed multiple goal-line stands against a Maryland team that turned out to be much worse than we all initially thought and they got extremely fortunate against Memphis thanks to turnover luck. A few bounces go the other way and Temple could be 3-5.

South Florida does struggle protecting the quarterback and passing the ball in general, which isn’t ideal against a defense that can get after the quarterback as well as Temple’s does. However, I still think Kronkite and company can have enough success on the ground to pull out a huge win on Thursday night.

This game means more for South Florida, which really needs the win to have any shot at bowl eligibility. The Bulls have Cincinnati, Memphis and Central Florida left on their schedule, so this is a must-win game.

In regards to the total, I think it’s Under or nothing at 49, but turnovers and special team blunders are a concern. South Florida’s special teams have been an unmitigated disaster. Temple hasn’t been great either but certainly not as bad as the Bulls.

The Bet: South Florida +1.5

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