ST. PETERSBURG — Perhaps Rutgers' strongest area is turnover margin, as the Scarlet Knights lead the nation at plus-20, having forced 32 turnovers while committing 12 in their 12 games.
But their opponent in Saturday's St. Petersburg Bowl isn't far behind, with Central Florida ranking 16th nationally at plus-8 in turnovers.
"They play the game the way I like it to see it played," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "They're fundamentally sound. They don't lose games. They make you beat them. A lot of times, teams beat themselves if you just don't make mistakes."
Conference USA had a strong league for turnovers, with four league teams ranking ahead of UCF in turnover margin. In their two games against BCS conference opponents, the Knights committed one combined turnover in losses to Texas and Miami.
FOR THE FANS: As a final buildup to the game, there are two fan events today. A Battle of the Bands is at TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., with both marching bands and activities for families and a tailgate cookout on the beach. A Bowl Block Party will follow at Ferg's Sports Bar, 1320 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, with live bands and interactive games starting at 6 p.m.
WE MEET AGAIN: UCF coach George O'Leary recalled that he and Schiano faced off in the 1999 Gator Bowl, when O'Leary was the coach at Georgia Tech and Schiano was the defensive coordinator at Miami. The Hurricanes won 28-13 in Jacksonville, with Schiano's defense getting the best of an offense that was averaging 40 points per game.