Who:                   Stony Brook Seawolves vs. #19 USF Bulls
What:                  Non-conference college football game
When:                 Saturday, September 2nd, 2017, 4:00 PM EDT
Where:                Raymond James Stadium
Why:                   It’s the second game of football season

The #19 University of South Florida Bulls will host the Seawolves of Stony Brook from the state of New York on Saturday evening at 4:00 PM, EDT.  This marks the second meeting between the FCS’ Seawolves and the Bulls.  The only other matchup between these teams was a 59-14 win by USF in 2010.

The Seawolves will open their season on the road against the Bulls.  This marks the ninth time they will have played an FBS team, with their lone win coming over Army in 2012, 23-3.  They finished 5-6 last season, but were just four years removed from a four year run of conference championships in the Big South Conference, spanning 2009-2012. 

USF comes into this game with a win under their belts, a 42-22 blowout of San Jose State.  They still hold on to their preseason #19 ranking, having started their season a week earlier than most FBS teams. 

USF Offense
The Bulls have the third ranked scoring offense of the nine teams who have played this season, scoring 42 points in their opener against San Jose State.  And, while this might seem a skewed statistic considering how few teams have played, it happens to correlate well with their #4 scoring offense in 2016, which averaged 43.8 points per game. 

Last season, the Bulls ranked 5th in the country in rushing offense, averaging 285 yards per game with 47 rushing touchdowns, which was the third best total.  Last week, they ran up 315 yards and four touchdowns against the Spartans.  In 2016, it was now Indianapolis Colt, Marlon Mack, who led the running backs in output in scoring.  With his early departure for the NFL, USF has looked to senior running backs, D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice, who had 99 and 94 yards, respectively, against San Jose State.  Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns in that game and Tice had one of his own.  The final running touchdown in that game was scored by senior quarterback, Quinton Flowers.

Flowers led the team in rushing yards and scoring touchdowns in 2016.  One game into this season, he has 70 yards rushing and 212 yards passing with two passing touchdowns and no interceptions.  Last season, he threw just 7 interceptions, but 24 touchdowns. 

On the receiving end of those throws, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has stepped into the leading role vacated by Rodney Adams’ departure in the draft.  Valdes-Scantling leads the team with six catches for 91 yards against San Jose State.  Sophomore receiver, Darnell Salomon, has two catches for 43 yards, this season.  

Stony Brook Defense
The Seawolves allowed 20 points per game in 2016.  In their one FBS matchup against Temple, they gave up 38 points.  Against FCS competition, they gave up about 17 points per game.  Their defense against the run was substantially better than against the pass.  They allowed just over 101 rushing yards per game, about 50 less than their own offense racked up, on average.  Through the air, they allowed 173 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. 

The Stony Brook defense was led in tackles by senior defensive back, Tyrice Beverette, with 98 last season.  Junior linebackers, Shayne Lawless, and Noah McGinty, round out the top three with 78 and 76 total tackles in 2016.  Beverette also led the team in interceptions, pulling down four picks on the season.

Stony Brook Offense
The Seawolves allowing 20 points per game in 2016 would be a respectable total if their offense was able to keep pace.  Instead, they averaged under 17 points per game and averaged just 262 yards of total offense per game and just 20 touchdowns all season. 

Their passing game, averaging just under 110 yards per game and three touchdowns all season, was led by junior quarterback, Joe Carbone, in 2016.  Carbone threw three touchdowns against 12 interceptions, last season.  One third of those touchdowns was sent to the team leader in catches, 37, and yards receiving per game, 48, senior receiver, Ray Bolden. 

Stony Brook fared better with their ground game in 2016.  They averaged 152 yards per game rushing, led by senior running back, Stacey Bedell.  Bedell averaged just under 70 yards per game and had ten touchdowns, last season.  Junior, Jordan Gowins, added another 46 yards per game and a pair of scores.

USF Defense
The Bulls were national leaders in offensive output throughout the 2016 season.  The same cannot be said for their defense.  Last season, they allowed more than 31 points per game scoring and ranked 92nd, nationally in the FBS.  They ranked 84th against the run, allowing 196 yards per game, and 122nd against the pass, giving up 285 yards through air.

The team was led in tackles by senior linebacker, Auggie Sanchez, who had 117 total tackles, which ranked him 20th in the nation, individually.  Sanchez has dropped down to tenth on the team with four, one game into the season.  Junior defensive back, Ronnie Hoggins, has the honor of leading the team at present, with eight total tackles.  Senior defensive back, Deatrick Nichols, junior defensive back, Jaymon Thomas, sophomore linebacker, Nico Sawtelle, and freshman lineman, Kevin Pickney, Jr., are in a four way tie for second in total tackles, with six each. 

Nichols led the team in interceptions in 2016, with four.  Through one game, three Bulls have picks.  Sawtelle, Senior defensive back, Devin Abraham, and junior defensive back, Mazzi Wilkins, have one interception, each, this season.  

Anytime an FCS team visits an FBS team, the expectations are typically lopsided.  When that FBS team is a heavy favorite to win their own conference, ranked in the top 25, averages more than 40 points per game, and features a Heisman trophy candidate, and the opponent averaged less than 17 points per game against FCS competition, this won’t be a nail biter.  USF should be deep into their bench by the third quarter of the game and looking for ways to run out the clock in the name of sportsmanship.

Given the lopsided expectation noted above, it isn’t a surprise that there are no odds published for the outcome of this game.  Kickoff is at 4 PM on Saturday afternoon at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.  The game can be viewed on ESPN3.

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