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South Florida/Rutgers Preview
by Matt Fargo - 11/11/2009
This game opened anywhere from even to -1.5 in favor of South Florida and it has not done much anywhere. We may see the line creep up a little bit based on two-thirds of the public on the side of the Bulls.
The Total opened at 46 and currently sits anywhere from that down to 45.
There are no significant injuries on the either side with the exception of Bulls quarterback Matt Grothe but he has been out for five games now.
There is a 20 percent chance of rain Thursday night with the temperature going down to 45 degrees and winds coming in from the northeast at 10 m.p.h.
The Scarlet Fever
While the Scarlet Fever is not running rampant through the Rutgers team, the flu has taken its toll and put a good number of players down for extended periods of time.
“We have a real bug going through the game, which may keep a few guys from practicing,” Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano said. He did mention that flu shots were available but did not say how many players got them and he was also unable to mention how many players were hit by the virus.
The good news is that Rutgers had an off week and that is when the bug hit its apex on the players so there has been plenty of time for rest and recuperation. And while it is looking like only a few players will show the effects this week, the missing of practice time is just as detrimental.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
Rutgers has a knack for getting the ball from opponents as its 25 takeaways are tied for fifth in the country and good for tops in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights lead the nation in turnover margin at +2.25 also thanks to an offense that has given is up only seven times.
In their six wins this season, the Scarlet Knights own a sparkling 22-2 turnover differential. In their two setbacks, they have committed five turnovers and only taken three. The Bulls meanwhile are 5-0 when not losing the turnover battle and they have a 16-7 edge in turnovers in those games. They are 1-2 when losing the turnover battle and with a ratio of 3-9.
South Florida coach Jim Leavitt said he will have an eye on the turnover margin Thursday night. “It's as important statistic as there is,” Leavitt said. “You turn the ball over, you're probably not going to win. If you don't, you have a shot.” It should be noted that the Bulls gave it up six times in the loss to Rutgers last season.
Running of the Bulls
South Florida is coming off its best rushing performance in Big East action as it ran for 189 yards on 40 carries (4.7 ypc) against West Virginia nearly two weeks ago. The rushing offense has been solid for the most part as it has rung up at least 122 yards on the ground in every game and its 179.1 ypg average is 35th overall and third in the Big East.
If the Bulls can hit that average, it will likely come away with the win but it will not be easy. Rutgers is allowing 106.8 ypg on 3.3 ypg on the season and that is with allowing 223 yards against Pittsburgh three games back and 197 yards against run-oriented Army.
South Florida is 5-0 when it wins the rushing battle but 1-2 when it does not. On the other side, Rutgers is 4-0 when it has the ground edge and just 2-2 when the opposition does so it is fairly safe to say the winner of the line of scrimmage wins the game.
Revenge on My Mind
South Florida won the first ever meeting between these two teams back in 2005 but Rutgers has owned it since, winning the last three meetings. The last two have been particularly painful for the Bulls and they have had this game circled ever since last year’s setback.
Several of South Florida’s players spoke about being embarrassed by the outcome of last year's 49-16 home loss to Rutgers, with some reportedly taking offense to the Scarlet Knights passing the ball when the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. Looking back at the play log, they do have a beef as Rutgers aired it out early in the fourth quarter up 35-16 and connected on a 93-yard touchdown pass.
Two years ago really stings however as South Florida went to New Brunswick with a 6-0 record and ranked number two in the country. Rutgers came away with a 30-27 win, the fans rushed the field and the Bulls went on to lose three straight games.
South Florida and Thursday is like oil and water as the Bulls are 0-4 ATS in their last four Thursday night games.
Rutgers is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog and is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as a home underdog of a field goal or less. That is offset however by the fact that the Scarlet Knights are 1-11 ATS in home games following a game where they committed no turnovers.
The ‘Over’ has come through in all four previous meetings.