Rutgers Football: Scarlet Knights Face a Must Win Against South Florida

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Rutgers Football: Scarlet Knights Face a Must Win Against South Florida
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Receiving snaps under center was an issue for Nova and RU last week,

If there has been one hallmark of the Greg Schiano era, it has been missed opportunities.

From Harrison's drop against Louisville to blowing a 10-point halftime lead at home against WVU, this season has been no exception.

The Knights started the Big East slate 2-0, with impressive wins over Syracuse and Pittsburgh. But now they find themselves in a two-game in-conference swoon, with a chance to drop below .500

This truly is a must win if the Knights are to climb back into conference contention.

If there is one hallmark of South Florida football since its indoctrination into Big East play in 2005, it's underachievement.

Under previous coach Jim Leavitt, South Florida had its troubles with Rutgers.  In 2007, the South Florida Bulls went into Piscataway, N.J. with the BCS No. 2 ranking, and fell to an unranked RU squad, 30-27. 

The last time the Bulls travelled to Rutgers was in 2009.  Then, the No. 23-ranked Bulls lost to the Knights, 31-0. The Knights held the talented, then-redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels down, and forced him into three turnovers in the first half.

Now a junior, Daniels has led the Bulls to a 4-3 record that includes a win over Notre Dame.  However, the Bulls, now under the leadership of Skip Holtz, have dropped three straight games themselves, all in-conference.

Last season under Skip Holtz, the Bulls pulled out a close win over Rutgers, 28-27.  A Rutgers safety was the difference in the game.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Skip Holtz's squad is 0-3 in Big East play in 2011

 

Last weekend, the Bulls led Cincinnati most of the way, but fell to the Bearcats in the final few moments of the game, when Zach Collaros found the end zone with under a minute remaining in the game.

Daniels was electric in the game, throwing for over 400 yards and rushing for a total of 54 yards.

Rutgers this week had its defense exposed by the speed of WVU, and had trouble with change of direction.

While the slippery conditions the team faced last weekend were a part of it, it is a harbinger of a mismatch with the talented offense of South Florida.

Rutgers' offense finally woke up in the first half against WVU.

Freshman Gary Nova showed poise in the pocket, throwing for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the day.

However, he made the freshman mistakes that cost teams games.

He fumbled two snaps, causing coach Greg Schiano to remark when asked about the quarterback situation at the weekly press-conference this week:

"Yeah, I think it's going to be Gary, but like I said on the call, we have to stop turning the ball over, that is for sure.  The fumble -- the C-Q exchange, I don't know, I don't know who's fault that is to be honest with you.  We could sit there and pretend we know, but we've got to get it."

They will need to "get it" this week as the RU offense will likely need to score in droves to beat USF.

Unless RU's defense can return to form and hold Daniels down again, it will once again be on the offense to keep RU in the  game.

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