TAMPA — Rutgers' 93-yard touchdown pass from Mike Teel to Kenny Britt put the Scarlet Knights up 42-16 in the fourth quarter, and Bulls senior S Carlton Williams said he was surprised, with nine minutes left and a 26-point lead, to see Rutgers throw the ball on two of its next three plays.
"Even after they were ahead, (to be) still throwing the ball downfield, really, really hurt for me. I told the guys: 'Next year, remember that,' " said Williams, who had two interceptions against Rutgers. "When we were down, getting beat, guys were still airing the ball out. Hopefully we can turn that into something positive."
Rutgers did run the ball on its final eight plays, scoring its seventh touchdown on a run by freshman Joe Martinek with 3:32 to play.
Williams said the defense understands that ultimately its job is to stop the other team, regardless of the score, so to see a 49 on the scoreboard in a home loss is humiliating for a veteran defense.
"It hurts your pride more than anything," he said. "Defense, we take pride in not letting people score. (The late throws were) almost sending a message to me. I was (emotionally) hurt. As a defense, pride has to step in and you have to be able to stop it."
In the past three weeks, Cincinnati and Rutgers have become the first teams in USF history to beat the Bulls three seasons in a row. The final margin of 33 points stands out because USF's last six regular-season losses were by a combined 38.
"We don't want to give up that many points. Our goal is like 14 a game. Forty-nine, that's ridiculous," said defensive end George Selvie, held without a sack for the third time in three games against Rutgers. "I can't explain what's going on. We've got talent out of this world. We just need to pull together and play together."
SPARSE CROWD: The losing streak has taken a toll on USF's following. Playing their first home game in a month, the Bulls drew a season-low announced crowd of 47,216, smaller than the opener against Tennessee-Martin. The actual attendance, according to the Tampa Sports Authority, was 33,484.
STILL HURTING: Several key players remain in question for Sunday's final home game against Connecticut. Starting CB Quenton Washington (back) and RB Jamar Taylor (ankle) didn't dress, and RB Mike Ford didn't return after testing his ankle on a single carry. Starting RT Jake Sims left with an ankle injury and did not return.