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Gameday blog: UM at USF

TAMPA -- The Miami Hurricanes (5-5) and South Florida Bulls (5-4) are both looking to become bowl eligible when they face off at Raymond James Stadium this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The Bulls beat UM 23-20 in overtime last year at Sun Life Stadium, and trail the all-time series 2-1.

BJ Daniels> ABOUT USF: The Bulls lost four Big East games in a row -- 44-17 at Pittsburgh, 16-10 at Connecticut, Cincinnati 37-34 and at Rutgers 20-17 (OT) -- before winning last week 37-17 at Syracuse. Offensively, USF is just one of 16 teams nationally averaging at least 200 yards rushing (205.2 yards per game, 26th) and and passing (265.4 yards per game, 32nd). Quarterback B.J. Daniels threw for 274 yards and ran for 113 at Syracuse in his last start and is completing 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,262 yards, 12 TDs and 5 INTs on the season. The Bulls have two bruisers in its backfield, 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore Demetris Murray (99 att., 432 yards, 7 TDs) and 6-1, 240-pound junior Darrell Scott (10 att., 611 yards, 5 TDs). The team's leading receiver, sophomore Sterling Griffin (40 catches, 493 yards, 2 TDs), was UM quarterback Stephen Morris' high school teammate and top receiver at Monsignor Pace. But he was lost for the season against Cincinnati (Oct. 22). Defensively, the Bulls rank 37th in total defense (351.44 yards per game), 17th in rushing defense (108.00 yards per game) and 86th in pass defense (243.44 yards per agame). Their real strength is creating trouble behind the line of scrimmage. USF is 3rd in the nation in sacks, 2nd in tackles for loss. Linebacker DeDe Lattimore leads the team with 66 tckles, 10 for loss. Defensive end Ryne Giddins has 40 tackles and leads with 11 for loss. Giddins and Lattimore share the team lead with 5.5 sacks each. The Bulls created 21 turnovers (10 INTs, 11 fumbles) and are plus-3 in turnover margin. On special teams, the Bulls own the best punt coverage unit in the nation. They've allowed six returns for -2 yards all year. Punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann is averaging 37.4 yards per punt, including 12 punts inside the 20-yard line and three punts of 50-plus yards.

> WHAT TO WATCH WHEN IT COMES TO THE CANES: Last week at Florida State, Marcus Robinson started at strongside linebacker and left early with a shoulder injury. Robinson was lasted as probable coming into the game, but it's expected that Kelvin Cain will start in his place alongside, Sean Spence (middle) and Denzel Perryman (weakside). Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong will also be back this week, but won't start after serving a one-game suspension. Still, expect Armstrong to get in there and move JoJo Nicolas back to corner, where he helps the team more. As unit, UM's defense has played much better over the past two weeks, holding FSU to one offensive touchdown and limiting big plays. But creating turnovers remain a problem according to coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. UM only has 13 turnovers and will try to create more today against USF, which has turned the ball over 18 times. Offensively, expect the Canes to try and exploit the Bulls lack of size in the secondary. Free safety Jerrell Young (6-1, 209) is the Bulls' biggest defensive back. But UM will try to pound it. The goal: average 5 yards a carry. If they do that, they'll win. Running back Lamar Miller, currently fifth all-time in UM single-season rushing with 1,108 yards, needs 93 yards to move past Clinton Portis (1,200 yards, 2001) for fourth place.

> MANNY'S PICK: UM 30, USF 27. I expect a lot of offense in this game even if it doesn't equate into a lot of points. In the end, UM will find a way to win and get a little revenge for last year.