Friday, November 13, 2009

Rutgers Swarms #23/24 USF, 31-0 (12 Hours Later)



This is part of my weekly series covering the Rutgers Football season, 2009, from my seat in Section 104. This week I'm incorporating and linking to the story as it appears on Scarlet Knights.com

Rutgers Swarms #23/24 USF, 31-0

I'll start off with a hackneyed cliche- this game was never has close as 31-0. Rutgers dominated from start to finish, and South Florida looked by the third quarter that that didn't want to be on the same field with the Scarlet Knights...or didn't deserve to be.

USF, a Top 25 team ranked team at numbers 23 and 24 in the polls, did not appear to be a team that- as ESPN's Chris Fowler said during the game's broadcast- belonged in the Top 75. It was hard to discern where USF's ineptitude ended and Rutgers dominance- particularly on the defensive side of the ball- began.

Rutgers led 13-0 at the half, but could have been as much as 21-0 or more if Rutgers didn't have to settle for two field goals (two other attempts failed) on a couple of possessions. In the first half alone there were two fumbles lost by USF, and two interceptions served up USF quarterback BJ Daniels. Rutgers turned the ball over once; a Tom Savage pass was picked, but two plays later USF turned the ball over to Rutgers.

Imagine a red blooded American male running away from stunning ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews. The miserable first half by USF drove their coach, Jim Leavitt, to do so, according to The Tampa Tribune's Scott Carter.

The first half was so atrocious for the Bulls that Coach Jim Leavitt became perhaps one of the first men in America to run away from ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews as she approached at the end of the first half. When Andrews finally caught up, Leavitt didn't have much to say.

Afterward, he broke down the Bulls' loss in simple terms. USF managed just seven first downs and 159 total yards, their lowest totals since joining the Big East in 2005.

"Our offense got dominated by their defense," Leavitt said. "To be down only 13 points at halftime, I was shocked. Give Rutgers a lot of credit.

"They just beat the dog out of us."

To be fair, the weather was pretty nasty on Thursday night- the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida reformed off of the Mid Atlantic for a strong nor'easter, with winds gusting in the 40 mph range, and temperatures in the 40's. Yesterday I said the weather would be a factor; Florida kids playing in northeastern weather in late autumn, some for probably the first time. I'm sure anyone who's watched the Giants and Jets in the Meadowlands over the years knows how the winds can be a factor in their games- and I do think it factored in altering the passing game (the winds blew in from the east across field at Rutgers Stadium) and it did wreak havoc on fielding punts for USF. There was no rain at the stadium during the game, but much of New Jersey and Long Island were getting battered rain, wind, and surf (accounting for about 5,000 no shows at the 53,000 seat stadium).

Rutgers played through the adverse conditions and adapted to them, while playing stellar defense against USF- and Bulls didn't, or couldn't. Rather than hit you with barrage of stats, here's a link to every stat you'll ever need on the game.

The bottom line- one team came to play, and the other seemed to leave all back in sunny Florida. USF still has a game with Miami, and an away contest with a proud and hungry UCONN squad in East Hartford in early December. USF might be in the midst of their annual El Foldo in the second half of the season.

And Rutgers?

They should be favored in away games against Syracuse and Louisville....and then they'll face West Virginia for the season finale at Rutgers Stadium. The bad news- Rutgers hasn't beaten WVU since 1994. The good news- South Florida handled the Mountaineers.

And they appear to be very beatable.

A couple of notes At the the game were RU alums and members of their respective Super Bowl champion teams the Giants' Shaun O'Hara and the Steelers' Darnell Stapleton. Also on the sidleines (and working the student section) was New Jersey Governor Elect Chris Christie.....the 31-0 loss was USF's first regular season shutout loss in their 13 year history. The 31-0 shutout was the first RU shutout of a Big East opponent since beating Temple 62-0 at Giants Stadium in 1993....for the first time since the second game of his first year on the job (at 1-1) Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano is back .500 (53-53). His first two years Schiano was a combined 3-20. It took almost nine years to dig out of that deficit. Nice job, here's to perseverance.....with the win Rutgers is 7-2 and bowl eligible for the fifth year in a row......and finally, "Little Jovi" made his fourth quarter appearance, now performing a medley of Bon Jovi hits. He even got to meet Erin Andrews, who interviewed him when the game got out of control. He's a very lucky twelve year old.

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