Week 3 Feature Game
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0) vs. South Florida Bulls (2-0)
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 • 7:30 p.m. ET • ESPN
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida (65,857/Natural Grass)
Line: USF -9
The stage is set for an exciting and important matchup between two undefeated teams identified among the favorites for the league championship. Big East fans circled this early conference game as an indicator of the season’s direction.
USF is coming off of a 32-31 win against Nevada (1-1) in Reno, while Rutgers beat Howard (FCS) 26-0 at home.
The Bulls came from behind to win their game but lost wide receiver Sterling Griffin to a season-ending knee injury. Griffin has been plagued by injury and missed much of last season with an ankle fracture.
Still, the comeback victory had to give the team a lift. The team let countless leads slip away last year earning a reputation for being unable to finish a game. Down 21-6 early in the game at Nevada, the Bulls scored with38 seconds remaining to beat the Wolf Pack 32-31 for the second-largest comeback in program history. It was the first time in program history that the Bull’s erased a fourth-quarter deficit of as many as 11 points to win a game.
USF has a 73-25 (.745) home record since the program began in 1997, including a 64-18 (.780) at Raymond James Stadium. Since joining the Big East in 2005, the Bulls have gone 29-14 (.674) at home overall and 15-13 (.536) in conference play.
Offensive players to watch include quarterback B.J. Daniels, wide receivers Victor Marc, Andre Davis and Deonte Welch, tight end Evan Landi, running backs Demetris Murray and Lindsey Lamar and linemen Mark Popek, Daneous Estenor and Quinterrius Eatmon.
On defense, pay attention to linebackers Sam Barrington and DeDe Lattimore, as well as Jon Lejiste and Kayvon Webster in the secondary. Cory Grissom and Ryne Giddins anchor the line.
Rutgers opened the 2012 season – and gave head coach Kyle Flood an inaugural win – with a 24-12 victory over Tulane in New Orleans. Flood is the 29th head coach in Rutgers history and had served on the coaching staff of his predecessor, Greg Schiano, for seven previous seasons. He was promoted in February after Schiano resigned to become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With a win, Rutgers would move to 3-0 for just the fifth time since 1980 and just the third time since joining the Big East in 1991. Rutgers has never claimed a Big East championship but this team’s talent and experience make it a legitimate contender.
Rutgers is the only school in the nation to record a shutout in each of the last seven seasons. The Scarlet Knights held Howard scoreless 26-0 last week to extend the streak. They shutout USF 31-0 in 2009 in Piscataway.
The Scarlet Knights are 5-2 all-time against South Florida. They won 20-17 in overtime last year in Piscataway and also hold a 2-1 series edge in Tampa.
Some players to watch on offense include quarterback Gary Nova who won the job in competition with Chas Dodd during fall camp, wide receivers Brandon Coleman and Tim Wright and running backs Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins.
Linebacker Khaseem Greene (2012 Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year) leads the defense along with Steve Beauharnais, defensive backs Mason Robinson, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, and tackle Scott Vallone. Also keep an eye out for five-star recruit Darius Hamilton, who plays both tackle and end.
Pick: USF 27-24
Other games this week:
Pitt (0-2) vs. Virginia Tech #13 (2-0)
UConn (1-1) at Maryland (2-0)
Louisville #19 (2-0) vs. North Carolina (1-1)
Syracuse (0-2) vs. Stony Brook (2-0)
Cincinnati (1-0) vs. Delaware State (1-1)
Big East Week Three Update
Week 2 game results:
Cincinnati 34 vs. Pitt 10
N.C. State 10 at UConn 7
Maryland 36 at Temple 27
Louisville 35 vs. Missouri St. 7
Rutgers 26 vs. Howard 0
USC 42 at Syracuse 29
USF 32 at Nevada 31
Conference Players of Week 2:
Offense: Andre Davis, WR, USF
Defense: Walter Stewart, DE, Cincinnati
Special Teams: Brandon Jones, CB, Rutgers
Pete's Big East Power Rankings:
1. Louisville #19 (2-0)
2. USF (2-0)
3. Rutgers (2-0)
4. Cincinnati (1-0)
5. UConn (1-1)
6. Syracuse (0-2)
7. Pitt (0-2)
8. Temple (1-1)