RENO, Nev. (CBS Sports) — Kickoff is Saturday at 3:35 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Here’s a preview:
Spread: Nevada by 1
Watchability: Coming off a 31-24 win over California, the Wolf Pack is flying high coming into this matchup with South Florida. Should be a close game with some offensive fireworks — definitely worth watching.
Shining stars: South Florida: QB B.J. Daniels. The senior had a solid opener — a 34-13 rout of Chattanooga — passing for 225 yards and three scores. He will need another big time performance to outshine Nevada, and he’ll also need some help from his explosive corps of receivers. Sterling Griffin, who’s finally healthy, will need to show up. He had just two catches in the opener, though one went for a score. Nevada: QB Cody Fajardo. If he’s not doing it with his arm, Fajardo will be doing it with his legs. Against Cal, Fajardo was 25 of 32 through the air for 250 yards, and he also carried the ball 21 times for 97 yards and a score. He figures to have more trouble with the South Florida defense, which was stout last weekend, albeit against a lesser offense.
Who could steal the show: South Florida: RB Lamar Lindsey. The senior was supposed to redshirt in 2012, but aninjury to Marcus Shaw changed that. Lindsey will backup Demetris Murray, but if Murray isn’t effective — he rushed for just 55 yards last week — Lindsey could get a chance out of the backfield. Nevada: RB Stefphon Jefferson. After a huge game against Cal, Jefferson probably won’t sneak up on USF. Jefferson had 34 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns against the Golden Bears, but his effectiveness this week will hinge upon how well Fajardo and the rest of the Wolf Pack offense play against a tough Bulls defense.
You going? Ranking the road trip: It will be quite a haul out west for South Florida fans, so this will likely be almost an entire partisan crowd at Mackay Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Magic number for South Florida: 17. The Bulls have won 17 consecutive regular season nonconference games against teams from outside the state of Florida dating back to 2006. The last time the Bulls lost an out of conference regular season game to a team from a different state was 2006, when Kansas beat them 13-7 in Lawrence.
Magic number for Nevada: 2. That’s the number of teams remaining on the Nevada schedule that have a solid chance of beating them, one being South Florida, the other being Boise State. With a win Saturday, the Wolf Pack have a very real opportunity to go undefeated.
The game comes down to: Defense. This may sound painfully obvious (and stupid), but whichever defense can stop the opponents’ high-powered offense most should win. Chances are this game will come down to the final possession, and whoever has the ball last will win.
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