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Enemy Recon: South Florida

Rocky the Bull gives Charlie Cardinal a run and that means a lot from us.

Saturday marks the return to the football field for the Cardinals after the beatdown of the Hoosiers in Lucas Oil Stadium last Saturday. This also marks the first game for OTP’s fearless leader that he’ll be able to devote time on Saturday to cheering the Cards on without interruptions like a family wedding or a bevy of IU coeds that were surprisingly impressed that a BSU football blogger not only existed but would spend the game at Scotty’s Brewhouse in Bloomington and then meet them at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood. But I digress.

On Saturday, the Cards battle the South Florida Bulls in a game that Vegas feels like won’t be remotely close, as USF was pegged at 23-point favorites at last check. That remarkably high spread probably is a combination of folks thinking USF is the real deal after their upset of Notre Dame and folks thinking IU is far worse than we did before that game last weekend. So rather than rely on the Vegas oddsmakers, we decided to reach out to our friends across the blogosphere at VoodooFive, the SBNation home of the USF Bulls. Our awesome questions and their equally awesome responses…

OverThePylon: First of all, congrats on the win versus Notre Dame. In looking at the box score and the flukey nature of the delays, the turnovers, and the dominance via the stats, is this a win that USF fans feel good about or is there reason for worry? More importantly, I assume the win was one of the biggest in program history. Agreed? Worried about a letdown?

Vodoo5: I think most USF fans will feel great about the win even though Notre Dame crippled themselves with so many mistakes. Coach Holtz preached throughout the week that the Bulls’ defense just needed the Irish to keep snapping the ball. As long as they kept the Irish out of the end zone it gave the Bulls an opportunity to capitalize on possible miscues, and they did that to perfection. On offense, the Bulls kept it simple with a grind it out game plan to keep the Irish from collecting a big play on defense. Just the way Skip drew it up.

I think this is easily one of the Top 5 victories in USF history. The wins over Auburn and West Virginia in 2007 and Florida State in 2009 I think are a little higher but there aren’t many opportunities to beat a team with a history like Notre Dame.

OTP: Fans of BCS conference teams usually look at the MAC like a team not to be worried about. What’s the feeling about this particular opponent in the USF fanbase?

V5: I don’t think USF fans will take Ball State lightly. The victory against Indiana on Saturday showed everyone that you guys are a quality opponent and I came away impressed from watching the game during the week. Any USF fan who thinks that the Bulls just need to show up to win is foolish.

OTP: If you were crafting a gameplan for the Cardinals, what areas offensively and defensively are ripe for exploiting on the Bulls?

V5: I think your gameplan against Indiana in the first half would be the way to go. USF is pretty thin at defensive back after you get past the starting four, and the Bulls are content with being nickled and dimed instead of giving up the big play. Also the Bulls are a little thin at DT due to injuries to Demi Thompson and Todd Chandler’s ineligibility so those zone reads with Edwards could be effective.

On defense, try to keep B.J. Daniels in the pocket. Although he did well last week, Daniels has been pressured into some bad decisions before if he can’t create something with his legs. If he’s able to break loose for a couple big runs, look out though.

OTP: Who are some key players that BSU fans need to watch to try and tell early the outcome of the contest based on their performance?

V5: On offense, the two people to look for is QB B.J. Daniels and WR Sterling Griffin. Daniels really had a good game against Notre Dame. Obviously the stats won’t show it, but B.J. went through his progressions well and almost always found the open receiver. Daniels ran the ball effectively when needed, and had a knack of picking up 4 yards on 3rd down when USF needed 3 by whichever means necessary.

Griffin was primed for a big 2010 season before he had a fluke ankle injury during summer workouts and was forced to redshirt last year. Sterling was in a position battle with Terrence Mitchell after spring practice, but he excelled in fall camp and solidified his spot on the roster. Griffin found a way to get open on Saturday, and Daniels rewarded him with a 8 catch, 75 yard day.

On defense, watch out for DE Ryne Giddins. The sophomore was the highest prep player to ever sign with USF straight out of high school, and is primed to breakout this season. If he’s able to get a sack on Keith Wenning early on in the game, it will free up our other DL like Porkchop Grissom and Patrick Hampton.

OTP: Predictions on not only the score but the flow of the game?

V5: The line for this game (USF -23) is absurd. I think Ball State will slow down the game as much as you can with the spread and keep this really close for 3 quarters, but USF will slowly pull away in the 4th. I think the Bulls win a tight one 34-24.

An opposing fanbase that’s respectful and thinks the Cards are legit?!? After our experience against the Hoosiers that’s such a refreshing change of pace. Definitely check out VoodooFive, and you can see our responses to their questions about the Cardinals here.

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