Written By Mark Ruelle –
The Charlotte 49ers travel to Florida to take on the South Florida Bulls on Saturday in AAC action. Charlotte comes into the game at 3-8 on the season and just wrapping up their schedule. South Florida is 5-6 thus far and needs this win to become bowl-eligible. The opening kick is scheduled for 7:30 PM EST.
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Do or Die for the Bulls
The South Florida Bulls have one last chance to earn a postseason berth with a win on Saturday night over Charlotte. The Bulls have faltered down the stretch, losing four of their last six games. They come into Saturday’s game after a 49-21 loss to AAC-leader UTSA on Friday night on the road. The Bulls now have just one more chance to clinch their first bowl berth since 2018. Quarterback Byrum Brown kept the Bulls in the game on Friday night, throwing for 287 yards and a touchdown and adding 43 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Running back Nay’Quan Wright added 67 yards on the ground and a score as well. The USF defense gave up a whopping 643 yards of total offense including over 200 yards on the ground.
“I used the word immaturity, because I do feel like we’re still really immature as a team,” USF head coach Alex Golesh said this week. “I think we’ve taken monumental steps and we’ve grown so much. But obviously on Saturday, we still weren’t there to be able to just go do it.”
USF comes into this matchup with a great offense and a poor defense. The Bulls are 12th in the country in total offense this season. They are 18th rushing the football and 36th through the air this season. USF is just 74th in the nation in third down conversions. Defense is a completely different thing for the Bulls. They are next-to-last in the country in total defense. The Bulls are also next-to-last in passing defense this season. They are 95th against the run as well. The Bulls have struggled in the intangibles this season. They are 116th in turnover differential this season. They have made far too many mental mistakes as well, ranked 109th in penalties this season.
Closing with a Thud
The Charlotte 49ers lost their third game in the last four on Saturday in a 28-7 loss to Rice in their final home game of the season. The 49ers offense was a mess in the loss. They finished with a school-record low of 158 yards of total offense as they shuffled in three quarterbacks on the day unable to get a spark. The defense was not to blame in this one, forcing three turnovers in the contest and holding its third straight opponent under 30 points. CJ Burton had another strong game including his second interception in the last four games. Demetrius Knight’s interception in the fourth quarter led to their only score after he ran it back to the Rice 15-yard line. Rice quarterback Trexlor Ivey ran one in from 12 yards out to account for their only score.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said head coach Biff Poggi. “Offensively we were totally inept. Last game was our best game, statistically (scoring 38 points in an OT loss at AAC-contender Memphis). Coming in we didn’t think Rice was a powerhouse defensively, but we sure made them look like that today.”
Charlotte comes into this game with the 112th-ranked offense in the country. That includes a 112th-ranked passing attack. They are dead last in the nation on third down offensively as well. The 49ers’ defense is ranked 63rd in the country in total defense. They are 87th against the run and 42nd against the pass. Charlotte is 85th in the nation in turnover differential heading into its final game. The 49ers are 109th in the country in penalties per game.
Key Injuries: H. Rutledge RB Ques Sat, J. Hestera WR Ques Sat, J. Jones QB Ques Sat, T. Kellman RB Ques Sat, J. King OL Ques Sat, S. Byrd RB Ques Sat – Ankle
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The Bulls come into this game fading fast but Charlotte may be just what the doctor ordered for them. The 49ers have stumbled down the stretch as well and don’t have anywhere near the firepower of USF. The Bulls should be able to exploit Charlotte’s 87th-ranked rushing defense and get down the field. At home this season, they are 3-2 and have a chance here to get a postseason berth. Charlotte is worst in the nation on third down offensively and only slightly better on defense. Expect that to be the biggest factor in this game, the 49ers’ inability to get off the field and stay on the field will be their downfall here.
Take USF -6.5
Prediction: USF -6.5
Written By Mark Ruelle , “Mark Ruelle”
Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.