No. 14 South Florida looks to keep several streaks alive and remain on course for a possible major bowl bid when it comes home to face dangerous Houston on Saturday in an American Athletic Conference contest. The Bulls have scored at least 30 points in 24 straight games - the longest run in FBS since the AP Poll was born in 1936 - while sprinting to the best start in school history that has extended their national-best winning streak to 12, dating back to last October.
“A lot of people doubted a lot of players on this team,” USF senior quarterback Quinton Flowers told reporters. “A lot of guys on this team just tell each other every day, ‘Why not us? Why not be great?’ We believe in each other.” Flowers is completing just 51.7 percent of his passes, but has been important in a Bulls rushing attack that is averaging 305.1 yards per game along with producing 22 touchdowns. Houston is 58th in the nation in rushing defense (155.4 yards against), but must make some more improvements against the pass to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2013 after giving up 471 yards to Memphis while coughing up a 17-point lead in a 42-38 loss on Oct. 19. “We’re going to fight for 15 rounds,” Cougars coach Major Applewhite told reporters. “We’re going to have to be a disciplined fighters.”
TV: 3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: USF -10.5
ABOUT HOUSTON (4-3, 2-2 AAC): Junior Duke Catalon (496 yards, seven TDs on the ground) will have to handle the majority of the rushing attempts after senior Dillon Birden (333, four) was lost for 3-6 weeks with an elbow injury. Kyle Postma should get most of the snaps under center again and the senior has completed 67.3 percent of his passes 1,120 yards - 315 last time out - but has thrown five scoring strikes as opposed to six interceptions. Postma has two experienced targets in seniors Steven Dunbar (47 catches, 505 yards) and Linell Bonner (45, 465), who have combined for four touchdowns through the air.
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (7-0, 4-0): Senior Darius Tice has led the productive rushing attack with 634 yards (6.2 per carry) and nine touchdowns while Flowers (613, seven) and D’Ernest Johnson (569, five) have also been difficult to contain. The Bulls have rushed for at least 300 yards in five of seven games and Flowers has thrown for 12 scores with senior Marquez Valdes-Scantling (28 receptions, 382 yards) leading the way with four TDs. Senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez leads the team in tackles (47) and has picked off two passes for the Bulls, who lead the nation with 16 interceptions and in turnover margin (plus-13).
1. Bonner needs 100 receiving yards and Dunbar 135 to join 11 others in school history to register at least 2,000 in their careers.
2. Flowers needs 329 yards of total offense to become the fourth player in school history to accumulate 10,000 in his career.
3. Houston could be without LB Matthew Adams - second on the team with 57 tackles - for the second straight week due to an ankle injury.
PREDICTION: South Florida 45, Houston 23