Rutgers fans serenaded South Florida with chants of “overrated” prior to the game and South Florida lived up to that billing. Rutgers defeated South Florida 30-27 behind a stellar workhorse performance by Ray Rice. Penalties hurt South Florida (10 for 99 yards) but this game exposed South Florida as simply a solid college football team. South Florida’s defense couldn’t live up to the billing and the Bulls chances of a National Championship disappeared about as quickly as they came.
South Florida couldn’t handle the powerful running style of Ray Rice. Rice is one of the best backs in college football and if his team hadn’t lost consecutive games to Maryland and Cincinatti, we’d be talking about him for Heisman; especially after the last 6 days. Rice ran the ball 36 times for 196 yards and 3 touchdowns against Syracuse on Saturday. After that type of workload, what would Rice do just 6 days later? He ran the ball 39 times for 181 yards. That’s 75 carries in 6 days and his second half was just as effective as his first. South Florida’s rush defense came into the game giving up an average of 106.3 rush yards, Rice had 94 yards at the half. South Florida hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 15 games. Who was the last to do it? Ray Rice.
Rutgers defense turned up the pressure in the second half. In the first half, South Florida quarterback, Matt Grothe, was 9 for 13 for 113 yards and he also ran the ball 7 times for 55 yards. In the second half he was 8 for 21 for 134 yards and had 11 carries for 3 yards. Rutgers sacked Grothe 7 times; 6 of them in the second half. Rutgers also held South Florida in 3rd down situations. The Bulls converted just 1 of 13 3rd downs.
Rutgers took advantage of South Florida’s weakness. The Scarlet Knights got pressure on Grothe and kept him in the pocket in the 2nd half and Ray Rice ran right down the middle of South Florida’s defense. South Florida has one of the fastest defenses in college football. The proof is how they held Steve Slaton to 54 rushing yards in their win over West Virginia. But, Ray Rice ran right at the Bulls and simply overpowered them. Late in the 2nd quarter, Rice ran left and George Selvie, who leads the nation in sacks and tackles for a loss, threw his 255-pound body at Rice who stiff-armed Selvie so hard that he went the complete opposite direction. Rice might be the most powerful running back in college football and his ability to carry the load was ultimately the difference in this contest.
Now that South Florida’s National Championship hopes are crushed they will focus on winning the Big East where they still have games against Cincinatti and Louisville. With South Florida’s loss, another unlikely team will be in a position to make a National Championship game. Boston College will most likely move into the second spot in the BCS, but they have to travel to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech next Thursday. Maybe this whole BCS mess will end up working out in the end…