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South Florida will try to avoid a letdown after a thrilling 32-31 victory at Nevada when it hosts Rutgers in the Big East opener for both on Thursday. The Bulls are brimming with confidence after scoring two late touchdowns last Saturday, but must refocus quickly against a team that has traditionally given them problems. Rutgers has beaten South Florida in five of the last six seasons, including a 20-17 victory at Piscataway, N.J., in 2011. The Scarlet Knights’ defense, which has allowed 12 points in two games against much lesser competition, will face a Bulls’ offense that has registered more than 900 yards in two outings. South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels has thrown for six scores and receiver Andre Davis has emerged as a deep threat. The Bulls must limit a solid Rutgers running game, led by Jawan Jamison.
RUTGERS (2-0, 0-0 Big East): First-year coach Kyle Flood has gotten decent balance on offense, but the Knights will have to improve their passing game if Big East teams begin to load the box on Jamison. The junior has run for 222 yards, including 7.9 per carry. Jamison has three straight 100-yard games dating back to last season, the first to do that since Ray Rice (2007). Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova has completed only 55 percent of his passes and thrown two picks. The Knights have put plenty of pressure on the quarterback and must do the same against the Bulls, who have had 12 different players catch a pass.
SOUTH FLORIDA (2-0, 0-0 Big East): With top receiver Sterling Griffin going down with a season-ending knee injury against Nevada, Davis has stepped up. The sophomore set single-game school records with 12 receptions and 191 yards against the Wolf Pack. Daniels threw for 363 yards, the third most in his career, and more importantly no interceptions. Now the stakes are higher and the Bulls will need a more productive running game. Lindsey Lamar, who was expected to be redshirted, came through with 85 yards rushing Saturday with backup Marcus Shaw hobbled. The Bulls fate ultimately may rest on their defense, which has eight sacks.
1. Daniels needs 54 yards passing for 7,000 in his career, while rushing for 1,690 yards and 21 touchdowns.
2. Rutgers attempts to start 3-0 for the first time since 2007 and only the fifth time since 1980.
3. South Florida is 0-8 against the spread in its last eight Thursday games and 0-6 in the last six home contests.