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SMU will try to stop Quinton Flowers the way they stopped Ward

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Five things to ponder about the USFSMU game:

1. Could this be a game where USF stubs its toe?

It’s possible. All you have to do is look back a month to SMU’s stunning 38-16 win over Houston, then the No. 11 team in the nation. Houston came in looking bulletproof, but quarterback Greg Ward had a hard time getting going. It could happen again if USF doesn’t match SMU’s energy early on. In that game, SMU scored the first 21 points and led 28-7 by halftime.

2. Can SMU be the team that finally stops Quinton Flowers?

Except for its performance against Ward, there isn’t much evidence. The Mustangs are only the 87th team in the nation on defense, a full 80 spots behind USF’s offense. But Flowers has amassed a lot of eye-popping stats by keeping the ball himself. If SMU forces him to pitch, even with Marlon Mack, the home team might have a chance.

3. Can Houston match points with USF?

Probably not, but quarterback Ben Hicks, just a freshman, can make some plays. USF’s own defense hasn’t slowed down many teams this year. It’s ranked 119th in the nation. So unless USF is particularly sharp on offense, the Mustangs can hang around.

4. Does USF still have a shot at the American Conference title game?

It’s fading. The Bulls still lose a tiebreaker to Temple, which has only Tulane and East Carolina ahead of them. Still, the Bulls can finish with their best record — and possibly finish in the Top 25 for the first time, if it beats both SMU and UCF the next two weeks.

5. Who is USF’s most underrated player?

That’s always opinion, but how about receiver Rodney Adams? He’s only 76th in the nation in receiving yards with 649, and he has only 190 yards rushing. But he’s scored 10 touchdowns, only three behind Flowers on the team.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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