PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- After listening to South Florida (No. 24 BCS, No. 23 AP) talk about revenge all week, Rutgers sent its message on the field.
Freshman quarterback Tom Savage threw for two touchdowns and Rutgers forced four turnovers, blocked a punt and recorded seven sacks in embarrassing the error-prone Bulls 31-0 on Thursday night in a nationally televised game.
It marked the first time South Florida was shut out in the regular season in its 13-year history, and the lopsided score provided some extra satisfaction for Rutgers.
"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't," cornerback Devin McCourty said. "To come out here and play like that and get a win like that after guys were saying this and saying that -- we just kept saying that's not what we're about. We're not going to talk about what we're going to do. We're just going to prepare and come out and play."
The victory was the fourth straight for Rutgers (7-2, 2-2 Big East) over South Florida (6-3, 2-3), and this one made the Scarlet Knights bowl eligible for the fifth straight season.
"It's awesome," Savage said. "That's all you can say about it. It's a great feeling, but we have three games to work on right now and that's what we are doing."
The only other time South Florida was shut out was 14-0 in the Meineke Bowl in 2005 against North Carolina State.
"Give Rutgers a lot of credit, they just beat the dog out of us," South Florida coach Jim Leavitt said. "They did a nice job. We haven't fared well against Rutgers over the years. They have just done a very good job, especially the last two years, they've beaten us pretty good."
Savage threw touchdown passes of 25 yards to Mohamed Sanu and 26 yards to Tim Brown. Joe Martinek ran for 128 yards, including a 37-yard score. San San Te kicked field goals of 36, 26 and 49 yards.
South Florida came into this game seeking revenge. The Bulls thought the Scarlet Knights ran up the score last year in a 49-16 victory and they promised to make amends.
But on the second play from scrimmage, cornerback Jerome Murphy was flagged for hitting Brown out of bounds and nothing went right for South Florida the rest of the night.
Rutgers went 80 yards on that initial drive, capped by Savage's touchdown pass to Sanu, who broke a tackle by Kayvon Webster at the 15.
The first half was awful for South Florida, although it trailed only 13-0.
B.J. Daniels threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a scramble, Faron Hornes muffed a punt, and McCourty blocked a punt by Delbert Alvarado late in the half.
Rutgers, however, managed only two field goals off the turnovers. Te missed a 51-yard attempt and he never got a chance to kick a 23-yarder after Hornes' fumble because holder Teddy Dellaganna didn't catch the snap.
"For us to be 13-0 at halftime, I was shocked, with as many mistakes as we made in the first half," Leavitt said.
Rutgers broke the game open in the second half. Savage (15 of 30 for 194 yards) connected with Brown on a touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. Sanu stretched the lead to 21-0, running in a 2-point conversion out of a wildcat formation.
Te kicked his 49-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Martinek closed the scoring with his 37-yard run around left end.
Daniels, who engineered a win over then-No. 20 West Virginia in South Florida's previous game, finished 7 of 17 for 129 yards. He also carried 16 times for 11 yards. The Bulls finished with seven first downs and 159 yards in total offense, including 30 yards rushing.
"This is something we're definitely not used to, that I'm not used to either," Daniels said. "We have a lot of weapons on our offense, we're explosive and they just really did a good job of containing us and shutting us down."
Bulls offensive coordinator Mike Canales said the early turnovers hurt.
"We just lost our rhythm and they just kept blitzing after us and we just couldn't handle it," he said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Tom Savage connected with Mohamed Sanu on a 25-yard TD pass in the first quarter to give Rutgers all the points it needed.
Gameball goes to... the Scarlet Knights' defense, which held the Bulls to only 159 yards and kept South Florida off the scoreboard.
Stat of the game... 1, 4, 7. Rutgers blocked one punt, forced four turnovers and picked up seven sacks in its dismantling of USF.