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USF also looking to go 3-0 on Saturday

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There is plenty of hype about Saturday’s game between No. 2 Florida State versus No. 10 Louisville. While far fewer are pointing to the USF Bulls’ attempt to take down another ACC team later on Saturday, it promises to be an interesting game.

The Bulls are in upstate New York in search of a 3-0 record. Providing the opposition is the Syracuse Orange, a team coming off a humiliating 62-28 home defeat at the hands of Louisville.

USF is a two-touchdown favorite to take down the Orange in the Carrier Dome. Power Five conference programs are rarely such big underdogs to unranked visitors from a mid-major — especially at home.

Syracuse has certainly earned that distinction. They rank 113th out of 128 FBS (Division 1) teams in total defense. They have allowed an average of 7.2 yards per play and 494 yards per game.

To be fair, Louisville is responsible for most of those totals. The Orange gave up 845 yards of total offense in last week’s game alone.

It is also worth pointing out the Orange are young and banged up in the secondary. That gave quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals numerous opportunities and should provide similar chances for the Bulls to exploit.

It is also fair to say Syracuse is vulnerable to a mobile quarterback who can hurt defenses with a pass. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers is not in the category of Louisville’s Jackson, but he can cause many problems.

Flowers has thrown for an average of 250 yards and run for another 50 each game. He has six touchdown passes and has rushed for another two.

Making the plight of the Orange even more difficult is the expected return of star running back Marlon Mack. The junior from Sarasota suffered a concussion in the season opener against Towson and sat out last week’s 48-17 win over Northern Illinois.

He will be a welcome sight in the Bulls’ huddle. In last year’s 45-24 win in Tampa, Mack torched Syracuse with 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Syracuse runs an up-tempo offense that can often limit a team’s ability to substitute or even catch their breath. Look for a few minor “injuries” designed to slow down the pace of the game.

Game time is 3:30 p.m. Saturday. It will be shown on the ACC network affiliated stations.


Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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