Previewing MSU vs. South Florida

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Game time: Noon ET, Saturday
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
TV: ESPNU
Radio: Spartan Sports Network
Online Streaming: WatchESPN
Opponent blog:
Voodoo Five
Game Week Q&A: Here
Pete's EL Visitors Guide: Here
Line: MSU -23
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After a discouraging offensive performance in Week 1 (you were great defense!) MSU gets back to work and tries to get fans off the cliff when its hosts South Florida.

USF is coming off a 53-21 home loss to McNeese State, the worst-ever loss by an FBS team to an FCS team. The Bulls are led by first-year coach Willie Taggart, a Jim Harbaugh disciple who took Western Kentucky to a bowl game last season. This is a team that wants to load up and pound the rock on offense.

If you haven't, I recommend you check out some of Heck's film breakdown of USF here and here.

By the numbers:

1: Play of at least 20 yards for MSU's offense last week. Tied for No. 111 in the country.

4: Plays of at least 20 yards USF's defense allowed last week.

11: Rushing yards allowed by MSU to Western Michigan, the fewest allowed of any team in the country (0.41 ypc)

40-7: USF's deficit early in the third quarter to McNeese State

3.1: Yards per attempt for MSU quarterbacks last week. Only Virginia Tech was worse at 2.3 ypa

Three keys for MSU

Turnovers: As bad as the quarterbacks were, at least they didn't throw an interception. If the offense struggles again, giving away possessions won't help.

Run the ball: The lone bright spot on the offense was Jeremy Langford, as Jim broke down. MSU wants to get its QBs into rhythms, but it might be better to run to set up the pass this time around.

Negative plays by defense: MSU had five sacks and nine tackles for loss last week, as well as three interceptions and a fumble return. I'd like to hope the defense doesn't need to score two touchdowns every game, but who knows. With this defense, a sack on first or second down can pretty much end a drive.

Three keys for USF

Load up the box: Western Michigan's defense strategy wasn't exactly mind-blowing. Load up the box and force MSU to pass the ball. Until MSU proves it can have some semblance of a passing offense, try to take away the running game. Defense end Aaron Lynch didn't do much in Week 1, but he terrorized MSU in 2011 when he was at Notre Dame. MSU's young tackles (unless Fonoti plays) will have their hands full.

Turnovers: The key to any upset.

Big plays on offense: Western Michigan resorted to just chucking the ball deep. It led to their only TD against the first-team defense. MSU keeps its corners on islands, so the opportunity can be there. Darqueze Dennard was beaten once, got a pass interference once and should have been called for PI on another. USF also had an 80-yard TD run early in last week's game.

Prediction: MSU 24-7

Last week's offensive performance was worse than anyone could have imagined. Who knows who plays quarterback or receiver. I keep saying this, but I'll believe the offense can do something when I see it. There's no way USF was as bad as they looked last week, but MSU shouldn't have too much trouble with the Bulls. Of course, we said that about WMU.

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