Quinton Flowers could be battling his way back into the Heisman Trophy conversation after a big performance and the star quarterback looks to help 17th-ranked South Florida build momentum when it opens American Athletic Conference play against visiting Temple on Thursday night. Flowers accounted for 386 of the team’s 680 yards and five touchdowns in the 47-23 win over Illinois last week and next hopes to avenge the Bulls’ last loss.
The Owls knocked off USF 46-30 last October in Philadelphia and the Bulls have won eight in a row since to match a school record, led by an offense that has produced at least 30 points in a national-best 20 consecutive games while averaging 40 in the first three of 2017. Temple is not the same team as last year, but its defense has shown it can make plays with 14 sacks in the first three games - nine last week in a 29-21 win over Massachusetts. The Owls have won two in a row since getting pounded 49-16 by Notre Dame in their opener and boast four receivers with at least eight catches and 100 yards in the first three contests. The Owls have leaned on their passing attack, which has produced 262.3 yards per game with no interceptions, and South Florida’s improving defense has picked off eight passes in the first three games.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: USF -19
TEMPLE (2-1): Sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi has thrown for 767 yards in the first three games with five touchdown passes, but the ground attack has not been as productive. Junior running back Ryquell Armstead tops the Owls with 177 yards rushing, but the team is averaging 2.9 per carry in the early going while senior Keith Kirkwood (12 catches, 185 yards), sophomore Isaiah Wright (nine, 180) and senior Adonis Jennings (eight, 146) have all been factors through the air. Freshman end Quincy Roche, who was named co-AAC defensive player of the week Monday, owns four sacks while junior defensive back Delvon Russell has 28 tackles.
SOUTH FLORIDA (3-0): The Bulls struggled often defensively last year, but they are showing the ability to take the ball away in the early going and have not allowed a point in the third quarter in the first three games. “It’s a different feeling (from last season) because the defense is playing lights out,” USF’s leading rusher senior Darius Tice (256 yards) told reporters. “This is a new feeling.” Junior defensive back Ronnie Hoggins and sophomore linebacker Nico Sawtelle lead a balanced unit with 18 tackles each while both own an interception for the Bulls, who are 14th in the nation in rushing defense (89.3 yards) after permitting just 67 last Friday against Illinois.
1. Flowers needs one rushing touchdown to pass Marlon Mack (32) for the school’s all-time record and is second alone in TD passes (54).
2. Temple junior WR and Tampa native Ventell Bryant, needs four receptions and 48 yards receiving to move into the top 10 at the school in both categories.
3. USF RB D’Ernest Johnson boasts 64 career receptions, one behind Mack for second in school history among players at his position.
PREDICTION: USF 38, Temple 14