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South Florida vs. Rutgers Big East Football Pick

11/5/11

Rutgers hosts South Florida in Big East action on Saturday with both teams in desperate need of a win. South Florida opened up as a 3 point road favorite but early money has brought the number down off 3 to -2.5. The posted total is 49.

South Florida comes in at 1-2 in conference and 3-5 overall having dropped 3 straight games, the last two of those, close losses to UCONN and Cincinnati. This losing streak comes after opening the year with 4 straight wins including a win over Notre Dame. Now, the quest to become bowl eligible begins. The Bulls face Rutgers, Syracuse, Miami, Louisville and West Virginia the rest of the way. No guarantees.

Rutgers finds itself in a similar boat. The early surprise team in the Big East has now dropped 2 in a row and they did so by not doing the little things that got them to 5-1. Specifically, the last two games, they have been turning the ball over and making mistakes. They need just one more win to become bowl eligible and face South Florida, Army, Cincinnati and UCONN with the only other home game after this week being Cinci. No guarantees here either, though only needing one win, their task would seem much easier than South Florida's.

But you have to worry about how Rutgers will react to last weeks loss. We used them as a Key Release for the 2nd week in a row. They helped us to a wonderful 0-3 day on Saturday after having been up by 10 at the half while getting +7. We had almost penciled that one into the win column at the half but West Virginia outscored them 20-0 in the 2nd half to walk away with a 10 point win and cover.

It's the same deal for both of these teams. Play mistake free fundamental football and you'll have a great chance to win. No room for error with teams like South Florida and Rutgers. They aren't good enough to overcome mistakes like a top tier, major program. South Florida held a 27-17 lead into the 4th quarter against Cincinnati only to be outscored 20-7 in the 4th. Again, mistakes. Turnovers, penalties, etc.

Rutgers has no running game and doesn't figure to develop one this week against a South Florida run defense that ranks in the top 25 in the nation. Defensively, Rutgers has ranked high all season but last week, in bad weather, West Virginia committed to the run the and Scarlet Knights couldn't stop them. The Mountaineers rumbled for 210 yards on the ground.

Doubtful that we'll be using Rutgers for a 3rd straight week as a key release but we'll give them one more shot here in our weekly write ups. If losing to West Virginia for the 17th straight time after having the game in hand doesn't kill this team mentally, they'll have every opportunity to win this one. Not much separates these two teams. The talent levels are dead even and 3 of the last 5 in this series have been decided by a field goal or less.

Our model predicts a 28-22 Rutgers win and with all else being equal, that's what we'll hang our hat on. Ultimately this game will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and who turns the ball over the least. Rutgers +2.5

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