Get in front of a TV or set your DVR’s. Whatever you do, don’t forget that the Rutgers Scarlet Knights open their Big East football schedule tonight as they line up against USF, because this is going to be good.
The primetime ESPN-broadcast matchup (7:30 p.m. ET) pits the two undefeated squads against each other, in what is projected to a bitter and close fought battle for a potential top spot in early Big East play.
In fact, as late as this afternoon, ESPN projected just a 7.5 point advantage to USF, who will be hosting the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
So what is the tipping point to a victory?
Only a few days removed from an emotional come-from-behind, one point, victory over Nevada last Saturday, the Bulls are still reeling from a fight that isn’t a week cold in the record books.
If the Rutgers’ defense, which has been almost pitch perfect in the first two games of the season, including a shutout victory over Howard last weekend, can take advantage of any of USF’s mistakes, they could propel themselves to their third straight victory of the early season.
The Scarlet Knights are going to have to find some offensive rhythm as well though, if they hope to grab the game away from USF.
Quarterback Gary Nova has just three touchdowns and 288 yards in the air, as opposed to the Bulls’ B.J. Daniels, who has already thrown for six touchdowns and 588 yards in two games.
"He's still at the beginning stages of his career," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said of his starter earlier in the week. "We certainly need to give him significant opportunities every game because he's certainly somebody that can affect the game in a big way."
Nova, who missed some key passing opportunities in last weekend’s victory over Howard, is going to have to effectively fix the Scarlet Knights’ sputtering air attack and quickly. If Rutgers continues to base their offense solely on the feet Jawan Jamison, they’re going to find themselves a very one dimensional team.
That makes them very easy to beat.
Both teams are dealing with several injuries to key positions, which will make tonight’s matchup all the more difficult to predict.
Betim Bujari, Andre Civil, Savon Huggins and Marcus Thompson, all of whom were injured in the Scarlet Knights’ win over Howard, are still questionable for tonight’s game.
Sterling Griffin will be on the sidelines for USF, after sustaining a knee injury last week that will end his 2012 season.
College Football Week 2 Highlights: The Cheat Sheet (via sbnation)