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USF Bulls vs. Florida State Seminoles Preview and Prediction

Travis Rudolph

Travis Rudolph

South Floridaand Florida State don’t have a long, deep-seeded rivalry, partially because the Bulls didn’t become an FBS program until 2000. In the schools' first meeting in 2009, the Bulls knocked off No. 18 Florida State in Tallahassee. Florida State got payback three years later with a 30-17 victory in Tampa.

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While the teams have not met very often, the players know each other very well, many coming from the same areas in the Sunshine State. The Bulls players have something to prove when they take the four-hour drive up the Gulf Coast to the state capital.

Florida State is coming off a 59-16 win over Texas State while the Bulls defeated Florida A&M 51-3 in their season opener.

South Florida at Florida State

Kickoff: 11:30 a.m. ET  (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -28

Three Things to Watch

1. Florida State Pass Rush

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South Florida didn’t have a great passing offense in 2014, but the quarterback combination of Quinton Flowers and Steven Bench combined for 20-of-26 passing for 281 yards with three touchdowns against one interception in week one. They were sacked just once by Florida A&M as well. The Bulls' line, though, is pretty inexperienced and presents a nice match up for the Seminoles. The FSU front seven would like to bring some serious pressure this week and finish it off with a few sacks.

2. USF’s Rushing Offense

Marlon Mack was a 1,000-yard rusher for South Florida in 2014 and he started this season with 131 yards against the Rattlers. The young Bulls offensive line will have its work cut out for it against a very athletic Seminoles defense. The only hope South Florida has is if Mack is able to run the ball effectively. Florida State gave up 132 yards on the ground to Texas State, but half of that total came on quarterback carries. Both Flowers and Bench can carry the ball, but stopping Mack is a top priority for the Noles.

3. Everett Golson and His Receivers

Golson was named ACC player of the week and with good reason. One of the most impressive things the quarterback did on Saturday night was spread the ball around. Travis Rudolph had the most catches with four. There were 25 completions between Golson and Sean Maguire and 13 different Seminoles caught a pass. Golson seems pretty comfortable with his targets and spreading things around again will do wonders for everyone’s confidence.

Related: College Football's Top 15 Quarterback Debuts of 2015

Final Analysis

Florida State’s offense probably won’t have quite the same success it had against Texas State, but it is hard to see USF slowing down the Seminoles that much. The formula should be similar: run Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender a lot, which will open things up for Golson in the passing game. When South Florida has the ball, the Seminoles' defense should pose all sorts of problems for USF's offensive line. The Noles should be able to handle Mack and the running game and will look to get a more consistent pass rush this week. Simply put, FSU should have little trouble with the Bulls.

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Prediction: Florida State 45, South Florida 13

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.