Even after blowing a double-digit, fourth quarter lead for the second consecutive game, the USF football team still had a chance to win Saturday night against Rutgers.
But a 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left as time expired, forcing the Bulls into an eventual overtime loss.
USF, which started the season 4-0 and climbed to No. 16 in the rankings, now sits at 4-4 and remains winless in the Big East.
On the final drive of regulation, USF drove 64 yards in two plays and 19 seconds before setting up kicker Maikon Bonani in the middle of the field to attempt to break the Bulls’ losing streak.
USF quarterback B.J. Daniels was intercepted on USF’s possession in overtime, allowing Rutgers to win with a field goal.
Now, the streak is alive and, at four games, is the longest in program history. The Bulls’ climb to a bowl game is getting steeper, as they are now two wins short of bowl eligibility.
USF built a 10-0 halftime lead with a 23-yard receiving touchdown by Victor Marc and a 43-yard field goal from Bonani, but it was Marc who opened the door for Rutgers to score their first points.
The Scarlet Knights got on the board midway through the third quarter after Marc lost control of a bouncing punt deep in USF territory, giving Rutgers excellent field position at the Bulls’ 12-yard line. Rutgers made a field goal on the ensuing possession.
The Bulls were still in position to win after an 89-yard touchdown drive, capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Demetris Murray, with 7:38 remaining in the game and a 17-3 lead.
Again, special teams let Rutgers back in, with Tampa-native Jeremy Deering returning the ensuing kick off 98 yards to pull Rutgers within a touchdown.
For the second time in as many games, the Bulls’ defense allowed a touchdown drive with under four minutes to play to squander a late lead, with Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu making seven catches on the drive before quarterback Chas Dodd found Brandon Coleman on a 34-yard touchdown pass.
After playing at Syracuse on Friday, the Bulls host Miami, Louisville and West Virginia in crucial games, as USF hopes to avoid missing the postseason for the first time in seven seasons.