This was a toss up between #5 West Virginia @ #18 South Florida and #6 California @ #11 Oregon. In the end I went with WVU and USF. California, along with Texas and Wisconsin, just seem to be overrated. Not to say that they are bad, but California's biggest win is over an ok Tennessee team, while Texas and Wisconsin, have struggled in games they in which they should have been able to blow their opponents out of the water early, but have not.
First, let's start with the Mountaineer's offense. This offense is 8th overall in the nation in total offense averaging 530 yards a game with 357 of that coming on the ground. West Virginia has had 2100 yards of total offense this year with Pat White and Steve Slaton accounting for 1500 of that, add freshman Noel Devine's 294 total yards, and 91% of the offense is spread between three players.
West Virginia's defense is good but not great. They are giving up an average of 270 yards a game, but have held to teams to an average of only 87 yards on the ground. The defense overall ranks in the top-50, but give up about six and a half yards a pass which is 106th the in nation. To top that, the Mountaineer's are one of the nation's worst (107th) allowing teams to convert on third down just over 35% of the time.
Now, onto the Bulls. This is a team that seems to have snuck up in the competitive Big East. Last year the Bulls lost to Rutgers by 2, Cincy by 17, Louisville by 23, but still managed to go into Morgantown and pull off an upset of the #7 ranked Mountaineers. Their defense held White and Slaton to 60 yards on 33 carries, and allowing only 132 yards rushing to a team that was averaging over 300 a game. This year the Bulls were still the underdog of the Big East coming into the year, but made teams take notice after beating then ranked #17 Auburn at Jordan-Hare, in overtime at that.
The Bull's offense is nothing special, but they do have a QB in Matt Grothe who finds ways to win, and a much better defense to give some support. USF ranks 69th in total offense averaging 238 yards passing (61st) a game and 154 rushing yards (59th) a game.
The USF defense has been spectacular to start off this young season. The defense ranks in the around 27th overall, including the top-40 in pts/game, rush/pass/total yards allowed, and rank 1st in the country on stopping teams on third down (20%). The defense also returns seven of the starters from last year's team, who shut down the West Virginia offense.
Prediction: No way that USF surprises anyone this year, especially being ranked #18, a huge road win against a ranked SEC team, and bragging rights for the Big East on the line. That being said, the Bull's still pull off the upset and start the race for the Big East BCS bid. Final Score 30-24.