- Rankings are dart throws this year.
National rankings have never been more upside down than this year, and last week was no exception. USF was the second consecutive No. 2 to lose and was one of three BCS top 10 teams to take it on the chin, joining Kentucky and South Carolina as losers. The week Rutgers was ranked No. 10 in both the AP and coaches' polls, five top 10 teams went down in flames. This season, the only constant is that pollsters can't seem to place teams correctly.
- Rutgers gained an identity.
The Scarlet Knights struggled through a two-game losing streak earlier this season mainly because they couldn't figure out who they were. True junior running back Ray Rice put it nicely in a post-game interview when he said that this year's team had to define itself instead of worrying about what it did last year. This team finally showed itself to be a tough squad that came through in key situations against USF.
- Ray Rice is back.
Rice seems to own South Florida after putting up at least 158 in all three contests versus the Bulls. He ran for 181 yards on 39 carries this time, bringing his three-game total against USF to 541 yards and two touchdowns on 100 carries. The New Rochelle, N.Y., product had nearly 100 yards by halftime.
- Special teams are an adventure.
Rutgers faked a punt on the opening drive that resulted in a first down and set the tone for the rest of the game. The Scarlet Knights also faked a field goal for a touchdown; blocked one field goal attempt and had one blocked; turned the ball over on two muffed punt returns and fumbled a kickoff; and nailed a 51-yard field goal that eventually won the game. On balance, Rutgers won the special teams battle, but it was anything
- The Scarlet Knights need a sure-handed punt returner. Tim
Brown fumbled the ball twice on punt returns, marking the third time this
season RU has turned the ball over on a punt return. Dennis
Campbell coughed the ball up against Maryland
at a key moment, and the Terrapins converted it into a touchdown. James
Townsend fumbled a kickoff against USF, but he turned it into a solid
return. With Kordell Young lost for the season
to a hip injury, the Scarlet Knights need answers in the return game quickly.
- Anthony Davis is the real deal.
The true freshman consistently knocked his defender back on each play, and he showed why he is at guard and not offensive tackle when he pulled on a couple of run plays and trucked defenders in his way. He has tremendous upside. Unfortunately, he also makes some ill-advised plays, like when he plowed a USF defender well after the play on a run that would have set Rutgers up with first and goal at the USF 2-yard line.
- The defense stepped up.
Rutgers sacked USF quarterback Matt Grothe seven times and was in his face the entire game, registering 16 quarterback hurries. With the exception of a fine 70 yard drive in the fourth quarter, Grothe never really found a rhythm. He was 17-for-34 for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception that he threw on USF's final play of the game.
- Turnovers are killing Rutgers.
RU lost the turnover battle against USF, coughing the ball up three times while forcing USF into just one turnover. The Scarlet Knights have now lost the ball 13 times (seven fumbled) and are minus 3 in turnover margin. Pittsburgh is the only team in the Big East with a worse turnover margin this season.
- Rutgers' offensive line is back to form.
The Scarlet Knights were unable to run the ball effectively in losses to Maryland and Cincinnati. RU has gained a total of 398 yards on the ground in consecutive wins over Syracuse and USF and has amassed 938 yards of total offense during that time. Additionally, Rutgers neutralized standout USF defensive end George Selvie last Thursday, limiting him to just two total tackles and zero sacks.
- The game was over when . . .
Zaire Kitchen intercepted a Grothe pass at the Rutgers 26-yard line. USF started its last drive on the Rutgers 49, but a Joe Lefeged sack followed by an offensive pass interference penalty backed USF to its own 24-yard line. Grothe tried a last-ditch effort on fourth and 37, but Kitchen climbed the ladder to seal the victory.
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