On this day in 2007, the Rutgers football team upset the No. 2 ranked team in the country, South Florida, who entered Rutgers Stadium (now known as SHI Stadium) undefeated. The Bulls were favored to beat the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers held off South Florida to secure a 30-27 win in Piscataway.
The Knights were led offensively by running back and Heisman Memorial Trophy contender Raymell Mourice Rice, who would go on to rush for more than 2,000 yards in the 2007 season, and used a couple of trick plays, ranging from a fake punt to a faked field goal attempt. Rice rushed for 181 yards on 39 carries.
The teams were evenly matched, with the Bulls and Rutgers continually taking the lead back from each other. The Knights were down 17-13 by the half, and it ultimately came down to the fourth quarter.
After a blocked kick by Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty and a faked field goal by holder Andrew DePaola, the Knights held a 10-point lead, but Rutgers’ defense was called upon to save the day after a fumble by Rice. The Knights secured a victory after two sacks and an interception, and the 44,267 person crowd rushed the field.
South Florida tallied 10 penalties for 99 yards while Rutgers was called for five penalties for 40 yards.
“I thought the defense played hard all night,” said Knights head football coach Greg Schiano. “We made some mistakes, which makes beating a team like South Florida tough, but they played hard. I'm very proud of their effort. They didn't stop chopping all night.”
Rutgers began the season ranked No. 16 in the country but lost its footing after losing two games in September. The Knights faced the Bulls unranked.
"Personally, rankings don't mean that much when you're on the field," said South Florida wide receiver Marcus Edwards, according to ESPN. "All that stuff goes out the window. It comes down to who scores the most points, and they scored more than we did tonight."
"We had the ball at the 50, down by three, and their defense came up to play," said Bulls head football coach Jim Leavitt after the game. "Give them credit. Give them a lot of credit. They did it twice."
Rutgers' win put an end to an eight-game win streak for South Florida, which became the 11th ranked team to lose to an unranked opponent in the 2007 season. Knights defensive lineman Eric Foster referred to the game as “a great win for the program.”
The win over the Bulls became the highest-ranked team that Rutgers has beaten, topping its win over No. 3 ranked Louisville.
The Knights finished their 2007 season with an 8-5 record and a bowl game win over Ball State. Eighteen student-athletes on that Rutgers team played in the NFL, including Rice, Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that the Rutgers football team entered the game undefeated.