By: Eric Finelli
The True Season Begins Tonight
The first Big East showdown is upon us; tonight, Rutgers faces USF in South Florida to get the conference games rolling. Both teams come into this game undefeated, and look to start their conference schedule with a win. USF narrowly avoided defeat at the hands it’s last opponent, Nevada, in a 31-30 game that went down to the wire. Rutgers, on the other hand, has blown out the first two teams they have faced, albeit having an easier schedule. Tonight will be a test for both teams, and here’s what to watch for:
The BJ Daniels Factor
Which B.J. Daniels will we see tonight: the one capable of throwing a four-touchdown game, or a four-interception game? Hopefully, Rutgers can force the latter, but in the event that Daniels comes prepared to play, Rutgers could be in for a long night. Look for Rutgers to try to bring a ton of pressure on the mobile quarterback; if they can rattle him early, he won’t have a chance to get going. Rutgers looks very solid on defense this year, and I believe that they will be able to shut down USF.
The Rutgers Offense
Rutgers hasn’t had a decent offense since Ray Rice was still wearing red and white. Yeah, we’ve managed, but it’s been a while since there’s been any consistency in the offense. This unit has the potential to be great, but it will take some serious work on the part of Gary Nova. Jawan Jamison is solid in the backfield, and should take a lot of pressure off the pass game, leaving it up to Nova to make good decisions, accurate throws, and protect the football. He doesn’t need to be spectacular, just manageable.
Prediction: Rutgers 20, USF 17
If the offense can put up some points, I believe the defense can jam up the Bulls enough to win. If Rutgers starts turning the ball over, the Bulls could really pour on points. Protect the ball and play good D; that’s the Rutgers style.
-Game starts tonight, 7:30 on ESPN