Winners and Whiners Preview – The South Florida Bulls hope to ride the Pony’s all day today as they face SMU

By David Marotta

The Southern Methodist Mustangs will host the South Florida Bulls on October 2 in an AAC match-up. SMU and USF last played each other in 2019, with SMU winning 48-21 as a seven-point road favorite.

This year, USF is 1-3 straight-up but 2-2 against the spread. The Bulls lost their first two games of the season 45-0 as a 19-point dog to North Carolina State and 42-20 to No. 13 Florida as a 29-point dog. The Bulls got their lone win 38-17 as a 22.5 point home favorite against Florida A&M and then lost to No. 15 BYU 35-27 as a 22-point road underdog last Saturday, after trailing by 22 points at halftime.

SMU is a perfect 4-0 this season and 3-1 against the spread. The Mustangs beat Abilene Christian 56-9 as a 33.5 point favorite in the season opener. In the following games, SMU beat North Texas 35-12 as a 22.5 point favorite and Louisiana Tech 39-37 on a Hail Mary game, winning touchdown on the game’s final play as a 10.5 point favorite. Last week SMU came away with an excellent road win, knocking off TCU 42-34 as an eight-point dog.

Bulls look to end 11-game conference losing streak

The USF Bulls went 1-8 and finished with a 0-7 record in the AAC last year. USF was ninth in the conference averaging 23.1 points and 365.3 yards per game last year offensively. The Bulls welcomed back nine starters on that side of the ball, but the quarterback was not one of them. USF is 10th in the AAC allowing 333 yards per game and 21.3 ppg through the first four games this year.

Freshman quarterback Timmy McClainhas completed 57.1% of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. Junior running back Jaren Mangham averages 3.7 yards per rushing attempt, with a team-best 168 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Last year, the Bulls allowed a conference worst 39.9 ppg and was ninth, giving up 441.4 yards per contest. This season, USF allows a conference worst 504.8 yards per game and is 10th with opponents scoring 34.8 ppg.

Mordecai has led SMU to 4-0 start

The Mustangs went 7-3 and finished with a 4-3 record in the AAC last year. SMU was second in the conference averaging 38.6 points and 494.5 yards per game last year offensively and welcomed back nine starters on that side of the ball.

This season, SMU is second in the AAC, averaging 549.8 yards per game, with 232.2 rushing yards, and first in the conference averaging 317.5 yards per contest. Leading the dynamic passing attack is University of Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai. He has completed 70.5% of his passes with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, accounting for 1,268 of the team’s 1,270 passing yards this season. Ulysses Bentley IV leads the Mustangs with 403 yards on 7.6 yards per attempt, and two of the teams four rushing touchdowns.

In 2020, SMU was sixth in the AAC defensively, allowing 30.9 points and 422.2 total yards per game last year, and welcome back seven starters. Against Abilene, SMU allowed just 213 passing and119 rushing yards.

This year the Mustangs defense is third, averaging 23 ppg, and seventh amongst 11 teams in the conference, allowing 441.8 yards per game. SMU is ninth, allowing 306 yards per game passing, and fifth, giving up 135.8 rushing yards per game.

It’s hard to see the Bulls hanging with the Mustangs in this match-up. This season, South Florida is 110th in the nation in total offense with only one passing touchdown, which ranks them 126th in passing touchdowns per game. The Mustangs are ranked fourth in the country in total offense and first, averaging five touchdown passes per contest. SMU is also better on the defensive side of the ball.

The Bulls only lost to the BYU Cougars by eight-point last week, but BYU did lead that game 28-6 at the half, and 35-13 late in the third quarter, before USF was able to make the game worth watching late with the help of a 19 play 95-yard drive that took 9 minutes and five seconds. Seeing how USF finished against BYU will give SMU more incentive not to take their feet off the gas as they roll to a big win here and cover.

Prediction: SMU Mustangs -21

Written By David Marotta , “David Delano”

David Delano is a Bowling Green State University graduate with a passion for sports, traveling, and music. David loves to handicap MLB, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, NBA, WNBA, and is also a big fan of boxing and track and field. Over the years, David has worn several hats in the sports world, from being behind the camera to writing, filming, editing, scouting, and coaching, along with servicing his clients as a sports handicapper. He is also an expert sports bettor. We are glad to have David on our Winners & Whiners team, and we recommend that you follow along with him every day.