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USF Football First Look: Bulls vs. Rutgers

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Brandon Jones (25) doing his honey badger impersonation vs. Tulane
Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Brandon Jones (25) doing his honey badger impersonation vs. Tulane

After a great win on the road against Nevada, the South Florida Bulls open conference play with the dreaded short week to prepare for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. At least it's at home.

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GAME: Rutgers Scarlet Knights at USF Bulls
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
DATE/TIME: Thursday, September 13, 7:30pm Eastern
TV: ESPN
TICKETS: Are certainly available. We mentioned that Living Social is pushing 2-for-1 deals, so get em while they're, uh, lukewarm.

This is the eighth meeting all-time for the Bulls and Scarlet Knights. Rutgers leads the series 5-2, 2-1 in Tampa and 3-1 in Piscataway. All games have been since the USF joined Big East play.

We all know about Rutgers, but here are the basics:

CONFERENCE: Big East (22nd year)
WEB SITE: ScarletKnights.com
2012 SEASON: Beat Howard 26-0 last week, following their season opening 24-12 win at Tulane. Season and game-by-game stats available here.
SB NATION BLOG: Our friends at On The Banks blog about all things Rutgers for the SBNation family of sports blogs.
OTHER NEWS OUTLETS: Newark Star-Ledger, The Trentonian. The Jersey papers are where it's at because the NYC papers barely give them the time of day.

COACH: Kyle Flood (1st year at Rutgers, 2-0). Flood and Pitt's Paul Chryst are the two new coaches joining the Big East this season. Flood was promoted from offensive line coach. This is the first time the Bulls are playing a Rutgers team not coached by Greg Schiano, who is in his first year coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: RB Jawan Jamison has rushed for over 100 yards in each of Rutgers 2 games so far, racking up 222 yards on 7.9 YPC. He has carried this offense QB Gary Nova has been erratic, completing 55% of his passes and 3-2 TD-INT.

KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: DB Brandon Jones is Rutgers' leading scorer. Yes, you read that right, a DB is their leading scorer; Jones has scored two TDs, returning both an INT and a blocked punt for scores. He's been all over the place. LBs Khaseem Greene and Jamal Merrell have been a one-two punch for Rutgers, totaling 45 tackles in two games and helping the Knights hold opponents to 82 total yards rushing.

BONUS KEY: SPECIAL TEAMS: The real story has been special teams, with three blocked kicks: two blocked punts (one Jones returned for a TD) and a blocked FG. Positively Beamerian.