Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bulls New Years Day hopes Finished After Confounding Loss

By JC De La Torre

Earlier today I wrote that the USF Bulls were playing to get into a New Year's Day bowl game and avoid the minor bowl circuit. Well, with their latest dissapointing performance against a mediocre Rutgers team, the Bulls better start checking out the Tampa Bay Rays locker room at Tropicana Field - because they may be headed to the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl on December 21st as the last bowl eligible Big East participant. After the Bulls were thrashed at home by the Scarlet Knights 49-16, maybe St. Pete won't even want them.

South Florida fell to 6-4 on the year, losing for the 4th time in 5 games. Rutgers QB Mike Teel threw for 294 yds and 3 touchdowns, while QB Matt Grothe threw another 3 interceptions. After a scoreless first quarter, Mike Teel rumbled in from 3 yds out to give the Scarlett Knights a 7-0 lead. Grothe drove the Bulls 8 plays and 54 yds in 3:10 to set up Maikon Bonani's 22 yd field to cut the lead to 7-3. After the Bulls defense pitched a 3-and-out and the punt was fielded at the USF 43, Grothe would throw a pick to George Johnson who returned it 26 yds to the USF 23. Disaster would be averted, as Carlton Williams would pick off Teel to end the threat.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, it was just a delay of the inevitable, as Grothe threw another pick, this time Jason McCourty who returned it 30 yds for a touchdown and a 14-3 Rutgers lead. The Bulls would show some life, driving 67 yds in 8 plays, capping it with a 5 yd run by Benjamin Williams to cut the Rutgets advantage to 4. The Scarlet Knights wouldn't be denied. After a huge return by Jason McCourty, with 2:59 left in the first half, Teel passed Rutgers 41 yds in 6 plays, finishing with a 2 yd TD pass to Jack Corcoran with 0:26 left in the half to stake Rutgers to a 21-10 lead at the break.

Jason McCourty would return the opening kickoff of the 2nd half 64 yds, setting up Joe Martinek's 1 yd touchdown, ballooning the Rutgers lead to 28-10. Grothe and the Bulls would answer, driving 52 yds in 9 plays, finishing with a 10 yd touchdown pass to Taurus Johnson. Bonani would botch the extra point, as the Bulls trailed 28-16. South Florida would force a punt, but the Bulls offense would fumble it away on the ensuing possession, setting the Scarlet Knights up at midfield. Rutgers wouldn't waste the chance as they pounded Joe Martinek at the soft underbelly of the Bulls defense for four straight plays, then Teel play actioned and hit Shamar Graves for a 28 yd score - expanding the Rutgers advantage to 35-16.

USF's Delbert Alvardo would start the 4th quarter by pinning the Scarlet Knights back at their own 6 yd line with a beautiful 51 yd punt. Unfortunately for the Bulls, it was just a set up for the longest play against USF this season. Teel found their impressive Junior Wide Receiver Kenny Britt wide open, who then raced 93 yds for the score. 42-16.

Grothe would get picked off one last time, eventually leading to Martinek's second score of the game, giving the Knights their final margin.

South Florida falls to 6-4 (1-4 in the Big East) with Conneticut and West Virginia remaining on the schedule. If the Bulls fail to win either, you have to wonder if USF will even be Bowling this season. An amazing dissapointment for the fans who had such high expectations at the beginning of this season.

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