San Jose State Hosts South Florida In Opener
Can the Spartans upset the Bulls?
First Look: San Jose State Spartans Versus South Florida Bulls
This is the first meeting between these two teams which both feature new head coaches and very different expectations for success in 2017-2018 season.
Who: University of South Florida Bulls (0-0) at San Jose State University Spartans (0-0)
When: Saturday, August 28th with kick-off at 4:30pm PST
Where: CEFCU Stadium, “Home of the Spartans” in San Jose, CA
The Bulls second trip to California and first to San Jose, will open the 2017-2018 College Football season against the San Jose State Spartans. Both teams brought in new coaches to take the helm, for different reasons.
South Florida is coming off a school high 11-win season last year and brought in new head coach, Charlie Strong, to continue the success established by his predecessor.
With the return of senior dual-threat quarterback, Quinton Flowers, to lead their high-powered offense, the Bulls defense needs to step up and match them on the other side of the ball. If that happens, the No. 19 Bulls will only climb the rankings.
On the other hand, the Spartans are looking to turnaround a program that has gone 19-30 the last four years, so they bring in Brent Brennan for his first career head coaching position.
Bringing in a new defensive and offensive scheme focusing on speed, yet without a projected starter at quarterback, leaves a lot of question marks for a successful football season.
What to Watch for in the Game:
Quinton Flowers QB, South Florida: To put it simply for the Spartans, Quinton Flowers is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the nation. Flowers threw for 2,812 yards and 24 touchdowns with only seven interceptions last season and added 1,530 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
To top it off, he earned AAC Player of the Year honors. The Spartans can only hope to contain Flowers, who also has plenty of weapons at his disposal with the talented wideouts Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants, while showcasing tight end Mitchell Wilcox. The Spartans top-rated secondary will be asked to perform, but success will only happen if they can stop the run, where they ranked towards the bottom of the FBS last year.
Brent Brennan Head Coach, San Jose State: Charlie Strong, the new head coach at South Florida, has taken a lot of the spotlight at his new school after taking over for Willie Taggert, who left for Oregon.
A solid team with a lot of key players returning has a lot of expectations on the Bulls’ shoulders for success in 2017-2018. Brennan, on the other hand, has been given a set of more pessimistic expectations for success. Revamping a middling Mountain West team by infusing it with a passion and energy, he has reenergized interest in the fan base.
Brennan’s dad played football for and parents met at San Jose State, while Brennan was an assistant under former coaches Dick Tomey and Mike McIntyre. Brennan has knowledge of the environment and restraints he is working under to improve. Brennan returns with an experienced offensive line and playmakers on defense, yet lots of unknowns. This game will provide a better insight into how the season can unfold for both teams.
Expectations, San Jose State and South Florida: After such a strong finish last year, the Bulls enter the new season with a new head coach and big expectations as the heavy favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. Ranked No. 19 in the preseason AP Top 25 (the only Group of 5 team in the poll), South Florida has the inside track to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Yet, the Bulls face an early test with an August kickoff with a 2,800-mile flight from Tampa to San Jose can play as a great equalizer. Plus, with a veteran offensive line, quality defensive playmakers and new head coach Brent Brennan to inject new life into the program; San Jose State could surprise the Mountain West in 2017.
A Week 1 upset would be a great first step for Brennan – and a terrible one for Strong. With expectations that are low, the Spartans have nowhere to go but up.
South Florida is a heavy favorite with a spread listed at (-21) and for good reason. The gap at quarterbacks is monstrous, and Flowers gives the Bulls a big edge in playmaking ability. The Bulls are the more talented team, and hold an advantage in every position group other than the offensive line.
Weird things can happen in Week 1 that can defy all expectations, especially when a team must travel cross-country. The Spartans will keep it close early, but the talented Bulls will pull away in the second half with their explosive offense.
Prediction: The Spartans will lose the game, but beat the spread. Bulls 34, Spartans 20.