|Gary Nova led the Scarlet Knights to 434 yards of total offense in the 23-13 win over USF. (US Presswire)|
RUTGERS WON. The Scarlet Knights rode their stout defense and a career night from wide receiver Tim Wright to win their Big East opener on the road at USF 16-13 on Thursday night. Running back Jawan Jamison was a work horse in the backfield, carrying all of the load while fellow back Savon Huggins missed the game with an injury. Jamison carried the ball 41 times for 150 yards and a 41-yard touchdown to ice the game with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
HOW RUTGERS WON: Fixing mistakes, like costly penalties, has been an area of concern for the Scarlet Knights in the early season. Rutgers entered the game among the worst in the nation with 20 penalties, and on Thursday it nearly cost them the game.
Rutgers dominated USF for much of the game with better third down conversion and a defense that forced four turnovers. However, South Florida was able to hang in the game for all four quarters in part thanks to 11 Rutgers penalties - which totaled 85 yards. Gary Nova's ability to keep the offense on the field was reflected in the box score, with Rutgers nearly doubling USF's time of possession. When B.J. Daniels and the Bulls' offense did have the ball, they were unable to string together enough plays before eventually being undone by their own errors.
WHEN RUTGERS WON: After South Florida finally crossed the goal line and tied the game at 13 with 6:06 left, Gary Nova found Wright 46 yards down the field on the next possession to set up the game-winning field goal with 2:48 left. From there the Scarlet Knights' defense just had to deliver a stop to seal the first conference victory of the season.
WHAT RUTGERS WON: A must-win conference game if the Scarlet Knights plan on competing for a Big East title. The eight team round-robin conference schedule has led to a split league title three of the last five years. If Rutgers is in the mix, then a head-to-head win against another possible contender could end up being the difference between the Orange Bowl and the Belk Bowl.
WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA LOST: Mostly, they lost an opportunity to have all of the same advantages in the Big East standings that Rutgers just picked up. USF seemed to bounce back from every turnover, and at 13-13 you figured the Bulls had another come-from-behind victory brewing. The team no longer controls their own destiny in the hunt for the Big East title, already trailing the Scarlet Knights by a game and a tiebreaker.
THAT WAS CRAZY. South Florida's struggles could be blamed on the short week after an exhausting road trip to Nevada, but it may just be bad luck for the Bulls to play on Thursday. The loss to Rutgers made USF 0-9 all-time on Thursday night, a strange curse that has haunted the team since their arrival to the Big East in 2005.
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