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ST Petersburg Bowl

Central Florida vs Rutgers

Rutgers -2.5 with a total of 44 at Sportsbook.com

12/19/09

The Scarlet Knights will try to make it 4 in a row in bowl games when they take on the Central Florida Knights this Saturday in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Head Coach Greg Schiano has really turned this Rutgers program around. Schiano started a little rocky going 12-34 to start his tenure at Rutgers, but since then this football team has gained some momentum. Since then Schiano is 42-21 and has won his last 3 bowl games.

Rutgers lost a lot of key players from last year’s team, so it looked like Schiano was going to have a rebuilding year in 2009, but that has not been the case. Rutgers got off to a bad start to their season with a 47-15 loss to Cincinnati, but now that win doesn’t look quite as bad after what the Bearcats have done this season. They were able to finish strong with an 8-4 record with their losses being to some very good teams in Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Rutgers is a very young team, so a win in a bowl game like this could really build some momentum for this team, but they will have to play very good football because Central Florida is a solid football team.

The Knights are also 8-4 on the year, and have played a very difficult schedule with games against Miami and Texas. Against Texas they were only down 14-3 at half, so this is going to be a very competitive game Saturday night.

PRIMETIME MATCHUP


This is a tough game to pin point a key matchup, because both teams are very similar. They run a very balanced offense where they like to run to set up the pass. Now whichever defense is able to take away the run it will make the opposing QB’s job a lot more difficult.

Rutgers is ranked 1st in the Big East in total defense allowing 312 yards per game, and they are ranked 3rd in the Big East in rush defense allowing just 109 yards per game. On the opposite sideline Central Florida also has a very stout defense. UCF is ranked 1st in C-USA in total defense allowing 348 yards per game and they are ranked 1st in rush defense allowing just 83 yards per game.

Both rushing attacks are going to have their hands full with their opponent’s front 7, so whoever is able to have the bigger impact running the ball between UCF RB Brynn Harvey and Rutgers RB Joe Martinek to open up the passing game will have the best chance at getting the victory.

THE FINAL VERDICT

Central Florida’s defense has been very impressive all year in most phases of the game, but the one place where they do struggle is pass defense. The Knights are ranked 9th in C-USA allowing 266 yards through the air per game. Greg Schiano is a very smart Head Coach, so you know that he knows exactly where he needs to attack this Central Florida defense.

Central Florida’s offense should be able to have some success against Rutgers with QB Brett Hodges, but unlike Central Florida, Rutgers defense is solid in all phases , and their defense takes advantage of mistakes. Rutgers defense is 1st in the Big East in turnover margin with an amazing +20 difference. In fact, they are #1 in the entire Country in that category. That also tells us that Rutgers offense takes care of the ball also.

This should be a great game. Both teams worthy of being here, both solid, steady teams. While Rutgers leads the nation in turnover margin, UCF isn't far behind at #16. If we had to point towards one game that shows Central Florida has a great shot here, we'd use the Houston game where they held a team averaging close to 50 points per game to 32 points and beat them straight up, 37-32. UCF still looking for it's first bowl win and we think they find a way to get it here.

This game opened Rutgers -1.5 and the betting public has been steadily backing Rutgers from the get go, pushing the number all the way to -3 in some spots which is where we step in and back the dog. Central Florida +3


 

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