After beating Navy last weekend to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1992, Rutgers will try to avoid an emotional letdown this weekend when the Scarlet Knights welcome a scrappy South Florida team to Rutgers Stadium for an important Big East game.
Rutgers (6-2, 3-1) has won three straight and hasn't lost since falling at home to West Virginia on Oct. 8. But senior defensive end Ryan Neill knows the Scarlet Knights are in for another tough game Saturday.
"They (South Florida) really are a lot like us, almost a mirror image, which I guess is what happens when you recruit the same pool," Neill said. "Big-play teams. We have to stop their big plays."
Rutgers hasn't had much success in the month of November under head coach Greg Schiano. The Scarlet knights went 0-3 last year, losing games to Boston College, Navy, and Connecticut by a combined score of 116-66.
In fact, Neill is just 1-14 in November since arriving at Rutgers. But the senior said this year's edition of the Scarlet Knights is out to prove that they can win the big games down the stretch.
"We're a different football team from those," Neill said. "(We have) a lot more maturity. Everything we've been through has taught us how to win. This is exciting for the whole Rutgers family."
Notes and Quotes
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Rutgers offense has flourished since senior QB Ryan Hart came off the bench in the second half against Connecticut two weeks ago. Hart threw three touchdowns in the win over the Huskies and then threw for 221 yards against Navy, helping the Scarlet Knights score 31 points.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Scarlet Knights feature a speedy defensive line that ranks second in the nation in tackles for a loss and third in sacks. They could have a field day against a struggling South Florida passing attack that has yielded nine sacks in its last two games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just want this program to win. I knew my shot would come again to play. I've played here so many games here, I knew something would happen down the road." -- QB Ryan Hart on waiting for his chance to return to the lineup after being benched in favor of freshman Mike Teel.
Strategy and Personnel
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Ryan Hart -- With freshman Mike Teel still nursing a shoulder injury, the senior will start for the second straight week. Hart has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,307 yards. He's thrown 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He still may have to battle for his when Teel is healthy.
RB Ray Rice -- The freshman is a threat every time he touches the ball. Last week he ran for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
FB Brian Leonard -- The senior continues to excel in the passing game. Last week, he caught a team-high seven passes for 58 yards. He also rushed for two scores.
WR Tres Moses -- The senior leads the Scarlet Knights with 510 yards receiving on 32 receptions. Last week, he caught four passes for 54 yards.
SS Ron Girault -- Intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards to set up Rutgers first touchdown against Navy. He'll have the chance to make some more big plays this week against a South Florida team that commits turnovers in bunches.
ROSTER REPORT: QB Mike Teel (shoulder) and OL Jeremy Zuttah (leg) are questionable for Saturday's game against South Florida.