- Associated Press - Thursday, September 28, 2017

No. 18 South Florida (4-0, 1-0 American) at East Carolina (1-3, 1-0), Saturday, Noon ET (CBS Sports Network)

Line: South Florida by 23.

Series record: South Florida leads, 6-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

South Florida looks to defend its highest national ranking since 2011 and remain perfect under new coach Charlie Strong by extending their dominance of East Carolina in Greenville. The Pirates, meanwhile, embrace another chance to prove themselves against a Top-25 opponent after two - No. 12 Virginia Tech and No. 23 West Virginia - beat them by a combined 120-37.

KEY MATCHUP

East Carolina passing offense vs. South Florida pass defense. Not much has gone right for the Pirates so far, but they have proven they can throw the ball, with QBs Thomas Sirk and Gardner Minshew orchestrating a passing game that averages a league-best 321.8 yards. They’ll need another big day to have any chance to beat the Bulls, who have the best total defense in the American, the fourth-best against the pass and an FBS-best 12 interceptions.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Florida: S Devin Abraham has three of the Bulls’ 12 interceptions, ranking first in the conference and second in the nation.

East Carolina: WR Davon Grayson caught three touchdown passes in the Pirates’ 41-38 victory at Connecticut on Sunday, finishing with 11 receptions for 223 yards. He leads the league with an average of 98.5 yards receiving.

FACTS & FIGURES

South Florida has won 22 of 26 games dating to last season. … The Bulls’ nine-game winning streak marks the third-longest active streak in the FBS, behind Oklahoma (14) and USC (13). … The Bulls have never lost at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, winning both visits when the teams were in Conference USA as well as their lone trip to Greenville as American conference rivals two years ago. … The schools have one man in common - Skip Holtz, who led East Carolina to a 38-27 record and four consecutive bowls in the late 2000s before heading to South Florida and going 16-21 in three seasons in Tampa, Florida.

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AP college football website: https://collegefootball.ap.org and www.Twitter.com/AP_Top25

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