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Rutgers opens Big East slate at South Florida

Sep 26, 2006 - 9:24 PM No. 23 Rutgers (4-0) at South Florida (3-1), 8:00 pm EDT

TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) - Ranked for the first time since 1976, No. 23 Rutgers seeks its first 5-0 start since that season when it visits South Florida on Friday in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.

The Scarlet Knights (4-0, 0-0 Big East) won a fourth straight game to begin a campaign for the first time since 1980 with a 56-7 thrashing of Division I-AA Howard last Saturday.

Sophomore Ray Rice recorded his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game by gaining 105 yards with three touchdowns on 23 carries.

The Scarlet Knights rank fourth in the nation in total defense (205 yards per game) and fifth in scoring defense (7.5 points per game).

South Florida (3-1, 0-0) had posted comeback wins over McNeese State, Florida International and Central Florida before surrendering 10 fourth-quarter points in a 13-7 loss at Kansas last weekend.

The Bulls had a chance to win before Matt Grothe was intercepted in the end zone to end the contest.

Last year, South Florida jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and held on for a 45-31 triumph.

Bulls coach Jim Leavitt is not pleased at having to play on a Friday night.

"High school football I think should have Fridays," Leavitt said. "But we're going to do it, we're fortunate to be able to play on TV. So you get - that's the positive part of it all, but I've always been a big proponent of high school football and coaches and you hate - I think television hates getting in that situation also, it is what it is, I guess. But high school football means a lot to me, but how often do you play on TV?"

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