Rutgers Football Team Report

Playing as a ranked team for the first time in 30 years, the Scarlet Knights, No. 23 in the nation coming in, went on the road Friday night and opened their Big East schedule with a stressful 22-20 victory over South Florida.

"It means a lot to the program," said fullback Brian Leonard, who lived through the bad times in Piscataway. "I don't think a lot of people thought we should be ranked at this point. After this game, I think we proved that we should be."

It wasn't easy. It wasn't expected to be. In fact, it came down to defensive back Jason McCourty covering receiver Amp Hill, and Hill failing to hold a two-point conversion pass in the end zone with 15 seconds left in the game.

The Scarlet Knights did what they set out to do -- get a win. Some will scoff at the soft schedule when talking about the program's first 5-0 start since 1976. At Rutgers, 5-0 is 5-0.

Ray Rice carried the offense at USF, with Mike Teel struggling again at the quarterback spot, and with the defense doing just enough.

The defense forced three turnovers, but allowed the Bulls to march to three scores with freshman quarterback Matt Grothe driving the Knights crazy.

"You've got to give credit to South Florida," said Rice, who ran for 202 yards and two scores on a career-high 35 carries. "They were the best team we played so far. It was scary to watch (at the end) but it's good for our defense to know they can come through."

The Knights are off this week and head to Navy next Saturday to try to hit 6-0.

Notes and Quotes
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Ray Rice tied a Rutgers record with his seventh-straight 100-yard game. Rice did it in style with 202 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 35 carries. He has 809 yards and 11 TDs rushing in the first five games, but he is carrying a big load, lugging the ball 28.1 times per game.

KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Mike Teel. His struggles continue, with 100 yards passing, another interception and no touchdowns at USF. Look for Teel to get extensive work during the bye week. Still, his coach stands firmly behind him. "I was encouraged by the leadership and, again, getting us in and out of the right plays in the run game," Greg Schiano said. "I was impressed."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's just him busting his rear end off. That's what our football team is - a bunch of fighters." - Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, on DB Jason McCourty, who shadowed USF receiver Amp Hill on a two-point conversion pass that would have forced overtime.

Strategy and Personnel
LOOKING GOOD: RB Ray Rice should be a Heisman Trophy candidate. In the first five games of the season, he has rushed for 809 yards and 11 touchdowns. Friday night he torched a tough South Florida defense for 202 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-20 Rutgers victory.

The Rutgers defense - OK, they gave up long drives and surrendered what could have been an overtime-forcing touchdown with 15 seconds left, but the Knights forced three turnovers - two interceptions and a fumble - in the hard-fought game.

PK Jeremy Ito - He kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal and also had 32- and 40-yarders in the win. He did have one blocked, a 42-yarder that almost helped send the game to overtime.

FB Brian Leonard - Catching a pass in his 39th straight game, Leonard moved to within a game of matching West Virginia's Khori Ivy's all-time Big East record. TE Clark Harris caught a pass for the 35th straight game.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The troubles of QB Mike Teel continue. Friday night at South Florida, Teel was 11-for-20 for just 100 yards with no TDs and one more interception. In his 14-game college career, he has 16 interceptions and five touchdowns. His coach stands firmly behind him.

ROSTER REPORT: Leonard suffered a hip pointer when he was hit by a helmet and will be sore, but is not expected to miss any time. The bye week will give him time to heal.


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