We don’t believe in superstition around these here parts, but South Florida’s 2012 fate was perhaps sealed for the worst when we gave the Bulls a realistic chance at winning the Big East title.
Obviously, it’s a long season, but USF didn’t help itself Thursday night by losing to Rutgers 23-13. Dropping early-season conference games has become somewhat of a tradition for the Bulls. When I’ll learn that for good and stop having preseason faith in USF, I can’t say.
Anyway, the battle for the Big East’s second-best team belongs to Rutgers — at least for the time being. The Scarlet Knights forced four turnovers and kept USF from under 100 yards rushing. That put more pressure on Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels to get the passing game going. While Daniels had 242 yards through the air, at least half came on two or three attempts where he simply chucked it downfield and relied on broken coverage.
But mostly he threw it up for grabs. For better or worse, the tip drill was B.J. Daniels, defined. Two of Daniels’ three interceptions were tips, as was a long completion that put the Bulls deep in the red zone.
Skip Holtz hasn’t turned the corner with USF yet. There are growing doubts if he ever will.
Not that Rutgers was much better. The Scarlet Knights had 11 penalties (that were accepted) for 85 yards. Rutgers can run the ball well even without Savon Huggins and plays solid defense. There are some big, talented receivers on the team and even quarterback Gary Nova looked better tonight than he had in the first two weeks of the season.
But the penalties. Rutgers can’t seem to put it all together somehow.
If Rutgers can clean up even a little bit, they may — may — challenge Louisville for the Big East crown, but as of today the Cardinals still look like the class of this league. It’s not all that close, either.