In the initial BCS ranking of the 2007 campaign, South Florida (6-0, 1-0) acheieved its highest ever ranking: No. 2. Rutgers (4-2) comes into the game off a 38-14 win over Syracuse. A Thursday game is tough enough, but a game against the second best team in the nation provides many different additional challenges.
"It seems like their linebacker Moffett has been there forever, you can tell he's the guy who sets it all up," Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano said. "He's the coach on the field, you can just watch on the tape and see that happening. "Very experienced football team with good youth mixed in.
They're very talented and they can run. They remind me of some of the Miami teams that I was a part of and played against."
The Bulls provide match up trouble for the Scarlet Knights. USF's leading rusher and leading passer are the same person. Matt Grothe is one of the biggest reasons that the Bulls are undefeated to this point in the season.
Despite not having standout numbers, Grothe has played well enough to win.
He has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1121 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Grothe has also rushed for 346 yards on 81 carries.
"I don't know if you can slow Matt Grothe down," Coach Schiano said. "Last year we were not alone in containing him. Week to week he would stack good numbers up. He's a good player and they have a good scheme that they built around him."
"We're going to do our best to slow him down, but if you do too much to slow Matt down running the ball, they have eight wide receivers that play, and all of them are great athletes. So you really can't just do one thing."
Defensively, both teams should be very solid. USF and RU are ranked 11th and 16th respectively in scoring defense. The difference between the two teams is that South Florida averages more takeaways than giveaways, whereas Rutgers has a negative turnover margin.
RU running back Ray Rice will be invaluable in helping to control the pace of the game for Rutgers. In the win against Syracuse, Rice rushed for over 100 yards for the first time since the second game of the season and displayed his trademark endurance by showing an uncanny ability to get
stronger with each ensuing carry.
"I think Ray is physically stronger," Coach Schiano said. "He understands the run game better, he is a better pass protector, he's had more opportunities and he's doing a better job catching the football. I think he's improved his overall game and I think he's running harder than he ever has. I am very pleased with the way Ray is working at it."
The Rutgers players are trying not to get to caught up in the hype surrounding the game against South Florida.
"They (the fans) are excited about it," RU quarterback Mike Teel said.
"The bottom line for us is there is a tremendous football team coming in that has gone out and done it week in and week out."
Injury wise, the Scarlet Knights look to be in a pretty good shape heading into the game this Thursday.
"Jeremy Zuttah is a little banged up but he's going to be fine," Coach Schiano said.
"Ronnie Girault is getting better, we'll see if he will be better in time, or if he can be ready for a limited role on Thursday."
The Rutgers players are just trying to get ready to play an important game, while only having a short week to prepare.
"It depends how many days you have to prepare for it," Rutgers defensive tackle Eric Foster said. "We played on Saturday and come back to play on Thursday. That is tough duty because you don't have that much time to rest your body. You don't have the time to prepare like you would in a normal week."
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