Thursday, December 30, 2010
Meineke Car Care Bowl: South Florida (7-5) vs. Clemson (6-6)
By Brian Bennett
Skip Holtz had South Florida playing very well down the stretch this season. Can the Bulls coach cap his first year in Tampa with a bowl victory? Here's a quick preview of Friday's Meineke Car Care Bowl:
WHO TO WATCH: Whoever starts at quarterback for South Florida. B.J. Daniels has apparently recovered from a quadriceps injury that kept him out for the final game and a half; now he just has to win the job back from freshman walk-on Bobby Eveld. Holtz hasn't announced a starter but has indicated that both will play. Quarterback play has been erratic for the Bulls all season long, and whoever gets the bulk of the snaps could have a difficult time against Clemson's highly-skilled defensive front seven. Daniels might be able to cause the Tigers some problems with his mobility, while Eveld has shown a better ability to throw the ball downfield. Both must avoid mistakes.
WHAT TO WATCH: Can either team score? The Bulls have had to manufacture offense all season with an inexperienced receiving crew and those quarterback problems. They will be severely challenged by a Clemson crew that allowed fewer than 18 points per game and is led by national sack leader, Da'Quan Bowers. The Tigers are nearly a carbon copy, with their own quarterback issues and an offense that struggled to generate much down the stretch. South Florida's defense is underrated and mostly anonymous but can play with anybody. Terrell McClain is one of the best run stuffers in the Big East. First one to 14 points wins?
WHY TO WATCH: If you like fast, athletic defenses then you will be entertained. It will be the final college game for Bowers, a likely Top 5 NFL draft pick next spring. Either Daniels or Eveld could get an early leg up in the USF quarterback battle next year. And it's another ACC vs. Big East showdown, where league pride is always on the line.
PREDICTION: This game is almost guaranteed to be a low-scoring slugfest. South Florida needs to find a way to come up with some explosive plays, whether it's on special teams or in the passing game, because Clemson's defense is too stout in the trenches. That will be the difference as the Bulls fall 14-13.