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UConn Football: Saturday Morning Mashup

South Florida will present a worthy challenge as UConn's Homecoming festivities close at Pratt & Whitney Stadium Saturday at noon. We look at some numbers, and discuss USF with someone who has seen them before this season.

Hello, Willie.
Hello, Willie.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

UConn moved down in Football Study Hall's S&P+ national rankings, from 99th to 102nd, despite soundly beating Central Florida last weekend.

The S&P+ ratings track play-by-play efficiency so dropping after a win is not uncommon, but it wasn't a huge move anyway. The Huskies also played backups on offense and defense for a good chunk of the fourth quarter, which doesn't help.

South Florida goes into the game ranked 82nd; the Football Study Hall projections have the Bulls as nearly a four-point favorite. The Huskies have a hearty 41.2% win probability though so don't lose hope just yet.

According to the efficiency ratings, South Florida is a superior team in all three phases. Their offense is ranked 89th, over 20 spots better than UConn's, which came in at 113th. The defenses are more evenly matched, with USF's at 69th and UConn's 74th. We can speculate that USF has the special teams edge due to better field position numbers both offensively and defensively.

USF's run-heavy offense is paced by running back Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers. Mack is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has 576 yards and three touchdowns in five games. Flowers has 315 yards, three touchdowns and is averaging 5.5 yards per game. The Bulls also have two more productive running backs in Darius Tice (199 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns) and D'Ernest Johnson (294 yards from scrimmage, 4 touchdowns).

Johnson is the team's leading receiver and two tight ends are second and third even though freshman wide receiver Chris Barr leads the team with almost 20% of passing targets and another receiver, junior Rodney Adams, is second in target rate.

But, as we know from our Q&A with Collin Sherwin, the USF offense made a schematic shift halfway through the Syracuse game. There is an element of surprise as to how it will look, even though we can be sure the offense will be run-oriented.

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How to Watch

TV: 12pm, ESPNU (Allen Bestwick, Dan Hawkins)

Radio: WTIC 1080AM (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman, Kevin Nathan) | 91.7 WHUS | www.whus.org

Series: This is the 13th meeting between these two teams, with USF holding a 7-5 advantage. The series is tied at 5 apiece since 2005 when both teams have been in the same conference.

Fun Fact: No team has scored more than 20 points in this matchup since 2009.

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Q&A with Maryland

Since Maryland recently played USF, and had some other news that may have caught the interest of UConn fans, we thought we'd shoot them a few questions for our readers.

Huge thanks to Dave Tucker from SB Nation's Maryland site, Testudo Times, for answering a few questions for us!

1) Maryland isn't having the best season, but they were able to beat USF pretty handily at home. Were you surprised to see them compete against Memphis the way they did and crush Syracuse?

It was somewhat surprising to see them do well. But more so against Memphis than Syracuse because I don't think Syracuse is that good this season.

USF really struggled in the passing game against Maryland. Quinton Flowers is arguably a better runner than passer. He threw for just 60 yards, completing just 10 of 19 passes and tossed just one touchdown while also throwing a pick against Maryland. I think when Flowers can combine to run and throw for 250 yards or more, USF can be pretty competitive, especially with their other great weapons in their run game, led by Marlon Mack.

Flowers wasn't bad through the air against Memphis (17 of 26 for 199 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but he struggled running the ball (8 rushes for 23 yards). Against Syracuse, he was better in his passing game (15/22 for 259 yards, 2 TDs) and also rushed for 55 yards on 15 carries and had a TD. If Flowers can do that and Marlon Mack gets the ball 15-20 times, South Florida should have a chance to be competitive in a lot of games.

2) What are the strengths/weaknesses of this team?

I'd say vertical passing game is their biggest weakness while their rushing attack is very good. The Bulls also have Flowers as someone who can takeoff from under center, as well another running back, Darius Tice, who is averaging six yards per carry and has scored three TDs so far.

3) Your take on QB Quinton Flowers.

As I mentioned above, Flowers can be effective if he can balance getting the ball down the field through the air to some of his talented wide receivers, while also picking up yards on the ground. But when he can't get the ball down field, teams can put another defender in the box and limit Mack and USF's rushing attack.

4) You had to know this was coming when I reached out. So Randy Edsall didn't pan out. How are Maryland fans feeling after a tumultuous, yet weirdly promising at times, four years with him at the helm?

A vast majority of Maryland fans are happy the Edsall era is over. Randy rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, starting with the way he said goodbye to the kids at UConn and continuing with 20+ Maryland players transferring during his first season. He often wouldn't take the blame when his team didn't perform well and was never embraced fully by Maryland fans. Edsall certainly ran into some bad luck, like the quarterback injury bug that forced Maryland to start a linebacker under center, but he his teams were almost never able to remain competitive against better competition.

I think people were somewhat surprised and happy with most of Maryland's first season in the Big Ten, beating teams like Michigan and Penn State, but the regular season collapse against Rutgers seemed like the beginning of the end for Edsall's tenure. Most knew this season would be somewhat of a rebuilding year, but the loss at home to Bowling Green followed by blowout losses to West Virginia and Michigan sealed the deal for Edsall. Maryland is certainly in a better position academically, but as you know, that's not what motivates fans to buy tickets.

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Saturday TV Schedule

No suggestions this week, you're on your own.

Sat, Oct 17, 2015
12:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Western Michigan at Ohio
12:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Eastern Michigan at (22) Toledo
12:00 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
South Florida at Connecticut
12:00 PM ET
ESPNNWatchESPN
Tulsa at East Carolina
12:00 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Purdue at Wisconsin
12:00 PM ET
FCS
Marshall at Florida Atlantic
12:00 PM ET
FSNFoxSportsGo
FIU at Middle Tennessee
12:00 PM ET
FS1FoxSportsGo
Texas Tech at Kansas
12:00 PM ET
CBSSN
Bucknell at Army
12:00 PM ET
FOXFoxSportsGo
West Virginia at (2) Baylor
12:00 PM ET
ABC/ESPN2WatchESPN
(17) Iowa at (20) Northwestern
12:00 PM ET
ABC/ESPN2WatchESPN
(13) Mississippi at Memphis
12:00 PM ET
SECNWatchESPN
Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State
12:00 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
Louisville at (11) Florida State
12:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech
1:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Buffalo at Central Michigan
2:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Northern Illinois at Miami (OH)
3:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Akron at Bowling Green
3:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Georgia State at Ball State
3:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Kent State at Massachusetts
3:30 PM ET
CBSSN
Air Force at Colorado State
3:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Idaho at Troy
3:30 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
Virginia Tech at Miami (FL)
3:30 PM ET
CBSSEC Live
(10) Alabama at (9) Texas A&M
3:30 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Syracuse at Virginia
3:30 PM ET
ABC
(19) Oklahoma at Kansas State
3:30 PM ET
BTNBTN2Go
Rutgers at Indiana
3:30 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
(7) Michigan State at (12) Michigan
3:30 PM ET
ESPN2WatchESPN
Nebraska at Minnesota
3:30 PM ET
ASN
Charlotte at Old Dominion
4:00 PM ET
SECNWatchESPN
Vanderbilt at South Carolina
4:00 PM ET
PAC12Pac-12 Live
Oregon State at Washington State
4:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Nevada at Wyoming
6:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
New Mexico State at Georgia Southern
7:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Appalachian State at Louisiana-Monroe
7:00 PM ET
MWC
Hawaii at New Mexico
7:00 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
(8) Florida at (6) LSU
8:00 PM ET
ESPN3WatchESPN
Wake Forest at North Carolina
7:00 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
Boston College at (5) Clemson
7:00 PM ET
FCS
Texas-San Antonio at Southern Miss
7:00 PM ET
ESPN2WatchESPN
(3) TCU at Iowa State
7:30 PM ET
CBSSN
UCF at Temple
7:30 PM ET
NBCNBC Sports Live Extra
USC at (14) Notre Dame
7:30 PM ET
SECNWatchESPN
Missouri at Georgia
8:00 PM ET
ABC
Penn State at (1) Ohio State
9:00 PM ET
FS1FoxSportsGo
Arizona at Colorado
10:00 PM ET
ESPNWatchESPN
Arizona State at (4) Utah
10:30 PM ET
ESPN2WatchESPN
Oregon at Washington
10:30 PM ET
ESPNUWatchESPN
San Diego State at San Jose State