PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Coming off its first bowl victory, this was supposed to be the year that Rutgers took the next step and went to a Bowl Championship Series event.

Everything was in place for the year after "Pandemonium in Piscataway." Heisman hopeful halfback Ray Rice was back to lead a veteran team that would open the season with five home games and play eight overall at Rutgers Stadium.

There would be a second chapter coming out of the Big East Conference for the feel-good story in college football.

It has happened, except it is being written by No. 2 South Florida (6-0, 1-0), a team that didn't play its first game until 1997.

After opening 3-0, Rutgers (4-2, 1-1) was surprised by Maryland and Cincinnati in consecutive games before rebounding against woeful Syracuse. The Scarlet Knights' chances of earning that BCS game may well depend on spoiling South Florida's magical ride in a nationally televised game tonight.

"There's always a turning point in a season, there's no doubt," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "This one is as good as any, probably. You have to let things happen sometimes. Sometimes you try too hard to make things happen and then they don't happen."

A year ago, things went just right for Rutgers, which played in the first college football game in 1869.

This year, things haven't gone the Scarlet Knights' way. Turnovers, mistakes and an inability to come up with the big play in crunch time led to losses to the Terps and Bearcats.

While none of the players would say Rutgers faces a must-win game, they know the importance of winning.

WANNSTEDT SURGERY: The latest addition to Pittsburgh's already long injury list is coach Dave Wannstedt.

Wannstedt will not be on the sideline for Pitt's game against No. 23 Cincinnati on Saturday after tearing his left Achilles' tendon.

He had surgery Tuesday, several hours after he was hurt. He also had arthroscopic knee surgery and won't be able to walk on his own for at least a week. Wannstedt will coach from the press box, switching places with offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh normally calls plays from the press box but instead will work from the sideline.

SCOTT PLEADS NOT GUILTY: Suspended Penn State tailback Austin Scott pleaded not guilty Wednesday and was ordered to stand trial on felony rape and sexual-assault charges.

At a preliminary hearing, Judge Daniel Hoffman also upheld several misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors withdrew two felony charges of aggravated indecent assault against the 22-year-old Scott because of a lack of evidence.

Scott, of Allentown, has called the encounter consensual.