Big East schedule preview – USF

The Bulls of South Florida, like all other schools in the Big East, lost significant talent at the end of the season, but unlike all other schools in the Big East, USF returns the centerpieces of its team.

Although head coach Jim Leavitt is down 13 of 22 starters, he still has the best known quarterback and pass rusher in the Big East. Defensive end George Selvie is a lock for the Big East First Team and would have been a first round pick last season if he chose to come out early. Quarterback Matt Grothe, despite the emergence of Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike, has a good shot at the First Team as well. Those two players, along with wide receiver Jessie Hester and cornerback Jerome Murphy, will be the anchors of one of the toughest teams in the conference this season.

Grothe, although he has yet to beat Rutgers, led USF to a No. 2 overall ranking two years ago and a 41-14 victory over Memphis in the St. Petersburg Bowl last season and is the team's returning passer and rusher from last season. In 2008, he threw for 2,911 yards and ran for another 591. Although he does not have the same pure speed that Pat White does as a rushing threat, he is a legitimate running threat.

Selvie battled through injuries last season, but is still considered to be the cream of the crop as a pass rusher with his ability to absolutely bull rush the quarterback. He had just 5.5 sacks last season, but has made a career of wreaking havoc. But over the last two seasons, Rutgers left tackles Pedro Sosa and Anthony Davis have managed to hold the beast at bay.

Hester can expect his role to increase this season as a wide receiver with Taurus Johnson graduating at the end of last season. Hester is the team's leading receiver with 579 yards in 2008.

But when it truly comes down to USF and Rutgers, the players don't really matter. Because, no matter what, you're going to see a slugfest.

Last season's 49-16 blowout in Tampa, Fla. was never that close, but the entire game was still hard fought. It wasn't until a 93-yard connection from Mike Teel to Kenny Britt that the game became truly out of reach.

This season's game, however, is more likely to replicate what took place two years ago at Rutgers Stadium in what is known as Pandemonium Part II. The Scarlet Knights upset No. 2 USF 30-27 behind 114 yards and two touchdowns from Tiquan Underwood on a Thursday night on ESPN.

Yet again Rutgers has the chance to increase its national exposure as the Knights take on the Bulls Thursday Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN at Rutgers Stadium. Get ready for skycam.

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