By Scott Baker
This weekend, the USF Bulls (4-0, 1-0 AAC) will face off against the UMASS Minutemen (2-4) for the first time. The two teams were scheduled to play for the first time last season, but the game was pushed back to 2022 as a result of Hurricane Irma.
The Minutemen will be without Head Coach Mark Whipple this weekend as a result of his comments following a 58-42 loss to Ohio last week. Whipple likened a no-call in the game to one of his players getting “raped” by the officials. The university went on to suspend Whipple without pay for the game against the Bulls this weekend.
Looking at the two teams, the Bulls will look to improve to 5-0 on the season as well as 12-2 in games outside of Tampa. Just as impressive, a win would give the Bulls their sixth straight win over a non conference opponent. For the Minutemen, with a win, would improve to 3-4 on the season. A win for the Minutemen would be their first over an AAC opponent since the conference started play in 2014 in their fourth attempt. The Minutemen played Tulane in 2016 and have played Temple twice,in 2015 and 2017.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulls rank 37th in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 465.8 yards per game. The Minutemen on the other hand come in at 73rd on in the country averaging 402.7 yards per game. In terms of time of possession, the Bulls and the Minutemen average 25 minutes of possession per game, which ranks 124th and 125th respectively.
In total defense, the Bulls check in at 92nd in the country giving up an average of 407 yard per game this season. UMASS ranks 114th in the country giving up just over 483 yards per game.
Players to Watch
For USF, one player to watch this weekend is junior running back Jordan Cronkrite. The junior leads the team in rushing with 304 yards on the season, averaging 101.3 yard per game. Cronkrite ranks inside the top 20 in the FBS in yards per carry at 6.61. Cronkrite ranks third in the American Athletic Conference averaging 101.3 yards per game. Cronkrite has appeared in three games for the Bulls this season, only missing the game in the season opener nursing an injury.
For UMASS, the player to watch will be senior wide receiver Andy Isabella. The 5-10 receiver has seven touchdown catches on the season, which is third best in the country. Isabella ranks second in the country in receiving yards with 648 yards on the season, averaging 108 receiving yards per game, which puts him at 10th in the country. Isabella also ranks 13th in the country with 6.8 receptions per game.
Both the Bulls and the Minutemen like to give up yards, with both giving up over 400 yards per game. The game has the making to be a very high scoring affair with lots of air attack from the Bulls. Statistically, this game favors the Bulls and it should play out accordingly. USF takes the game 45-17 over the Minutemen on Saturday afternoon.
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