Preview: USF at Rutgers
by Denis Brown
October 16, 2007
If the season ended today, South Florida (6-0) would be playing for a national championship. In the first BCS rankings, the Bulls are ranked second and should play in the BCS National Championship game if they win out. However, before USF can start thinking down the road, they have to worry about a midweek game on the road against Rutgers (4-2).
The Scarlet Knights have not played up to preseason expectations so far this season and win against a top-give team should give the season a new meaning. Rutgers is still in the mix to win the Big East and a win against South Florida will go a long way towards securing a BCS bowl bid by winning the conference.
USF has picked up wins on the road against Auburn and at home against West Virginia. Last week, the Bulls had their best offensive showing to-date with a 64-12 win. South Florida was not even on the radar screen entering the season. Most people saw the Bulls as a possible spoiler to the “Big Three.” However, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Louisville have one, two, and three loses respectively. The basis for USF's success has been a defense that ranks 11th in the nation in scoring by only allowing 15.7 points per game.
Rutgers needs this game in the worst way. The Scarlet Knights finally got back on the winning track after defeating Syracuse 38-14. RU had lost to Maryland and Cincinnati in consecutive weeks. Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano has preached that no game is a must-win; rather, Coach Schiano is more focused on having his team play up to the level he believes they can play at. To this point, the Scarlet Knight players believe that they have not reached that level.
The biggest problem for Rutgers is achieving balance on offense. The Knights only have 1,093 rushing yards compared to 1,845 passing yards. The numbers do not look bad, but they have been pumped up against lesser opponents. In Rutgers two loses, RU running back Ray Rice failed to rush for 100 yards. USF has allowed 106 rushing yards per game and will have to key on Rice to take away that part of the Rutgers offense.
RU quarterback Mike Teel has thrown for 1,817 yards on a 62.5 competition percentage with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Teel is throwing for over 300 yards per game, but when Rice is not involved in the offense, Teel has been prone to decision-making mistakes, resulting in interceptions.
Thursday night games are always tough to predict. It is not always the most talented team that wins, but the most-prepared team. Rutgers will have the home field advantage and is the team that needs to win the most. Also, being a highly ranked team this year has been a disadvantage. This is the toughest road game left on the schedule for South Florida in their quest for a spot in the BCS title game.
Denis Brown is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.