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Reply To: NCAAF • "College Bowl Game" • Monday 12/21/15

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Western Kentucky, USF meet Monday in Miami
By Brian Graham

WESTERN KENTUCKY HILLTOPPERS (11-2) vs. SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (8-4)
Miami Beach Bowl
Marlins Park – Miami, FL
Kickoff: Monday, 2:30 p.m. ET

Line: Western Kentucky -3, Total: 66

Two red-hot schools try to remain red-hot on Monday when Western Kentucky and South Florida collide in the Miami Beach Bowl.

The Hilltoppers have won five straight games SU (4-1 ATS) while the Bulls have ripped of four straight victories, both SU and ATS. Both of these high-powered offenses are averaging more than 50 PPG over the past three contests with Western Kentucky at 52.3 PPG and South Florida close behind at 51.0 PPG. These schools haven’t met since 2010, but Bulls head coach Willie Taggart was the Hilltoppers head coach from 2010 to 2012 before being hired in Tampa before the 2013 season. After Western Kentucky rolled to a 31-3 victory at home in this series in 1997 — when Taggart was the winning quarterback — South Florida has won each of the past five meetings. Both teams have plenty of reasons for bettor optimism, as the Hilltoppers are 15-3 ATS on the road since 1992 following a game going Under the Total and the Bulls are a perfect 9-0 ATS on a grass field this surface. Western Kentucky star TE Tyler Higbee (knee) is doubtful and DB Wonderful Terry (ankle) is out, but South Florida has no significant injuries to contend with.

Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty (4,594 pass yds, 9.3 YPA, 45 TD, 7 INT) has been better than his former head coach Willie Taggart could have imagined, as he’s thrown for a hefty 9,424 yards, 94 TD and 17 INT over the past two seasons. He has led the nation in touchdown passes in both of these years and won the Conference USA MVP in both seasons as well. Despite his 496 pass attempts this year, Doughty has taken only 13 sacks. The senior has not been the only playmaker on this explosive offense that ranks third in the nation in passing yards (365 YPG) and fourth in scoring (44.2 PPG), while totaling a hefty 520 total YPG. WR Taywan Taylor (1,363 rec yds, 17 TD) has been a huge part of the offense, with at least one touchdown in 11 of the past 12 games, and 90+ receiving yards on nine different occasions. The Hilltoppers are also a quality running team with 155 rushing YPG on 4.7 YPC this season. The one-two punch of RBs Anthony Wales (986 rush yds, 7.0 YPC, 7 TD) and D’Andre Ferby (604 rush yds, 4.0 YPC, 11 TD) has been productive all season. The shifty 5-foot-10, 195-pound Wales has averaged 122 rushing YPG over the past eight games and the powerful 240-pound Ferby has scored five touchdowns in the past three contests. Defensively, Western Kentucky gives up only 25.2 PPG and 389 total YPG, and those numbers are a meager 21.0 PPG and 260 total YPG in the past three contests. The run-stop unit allows 155 YPG on 4.2 YPC while the secondary gives up 234 YPG on 7.0 YPA. This defense has also been making plays on the football with 11 forced turnovers in the past three games, but the run-heavy Bulls have only 15 giveaways all season.

South Florida’s offense loves to pound the football with a hefty 244 rushing YPG on 5.3 YPC for the season, which includes 1,210 rushing yards (303 YPG) over the past four games. Sophomore RB Marlon Mack has 555 of these yards to give him 1,273 yards (6.6 YPC) and 8 TD this season. The 200-pound sophomore has rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of 11 games this year and will likely carry the ball 20+ times on Monday. Sophomore QB Quinton Flowers can also run the football with 883 yards (5.0 YPC) and 10 touchdowns for the season. Flowers has also been an above-average passer, as he’s thrown for 2,023 yards (8.3 YPA), 21 TD and 8 INT this season. His top target is junior WR Rodney Adams who has averaged more than 20 yards per catch in seven of his past eight games. The Bulls defense has been stingy all season with 21.1 PPG and 361 total YPG allowed, and those numbers have dipped to 17.7 PPG and 338 total YPG over the past three contests. A big reason for this is the unit’s nine forced turnovers during this three-game time frame. While the run-stop unit holds opponents to 141 YPG on 3.6 YPC, USF has allowed 221 YPG on 6.6 YPA through the air, and will face a dynamic quarterback on Monday.