PISCATAWAY, New Jersey — Linebacker DeDe Lattimore's 18 tackles in his final game at South Florida was very impressive.
The problem for coach Willie Taggart was that he didn't have a lot of guys performing at the same level.
The Bulls (2-10, 2-6 American Athletic Conference) finished their first season under Taggart with a 31-6 loss to Rutgers on Saturday night, their sixth straight setback.
How bad was it?
Lattimore's 18 tackles were eight more than the number of yards the Bulls gained rushing.
"He told me before the game he was going to get 20 tackles and he came up just short," Taggart said. "I told him during the game how impressed I was that he set a goal like that. We need more DeDes on our football team."
Lattimore had come out for warmups bare-chested to show that the New Jersey weather wouldn't bother him. Then he made sure everyone would notice his jersey number during the game. In addition to his 18 tackles, Lattimore also forced a fumble on the goal line that prevented a Rutgers' touchdown.
Lattimore finished the season with four forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles and an interception. His career-best 18 tackles gave him 98 for the season.
"I have a lot of different emotions after this game," Lattimore said. "I gave it everything I had. Coach T (Taggart) knows what he's doing. If they follow his lead, USF will be back on top, I can guarantee that."
The win snapped a three-game losing slide for Rutgers (6-6, 3-5), and set up a game with Notre Dame (8-4) in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28.
Marvin Kloss kicked two field goals for South Florida.
The win should take some pressure off second-year Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, but there is no guarantee that taking the Scarlet Knights to two straight bowls with a 15-10 overall record will guarantee him the job when they move into the Big Ten Conference next season.
Rutgers, which gave up 121 points in losing its last three games to Cincinnati, No. 15 Central Florida and Connecticut, had no problem with the offensively challenged Bulls. The defense limited them to 151 total yards, including just 10 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
The Scarlet Knights took the lead for good on their second series after taking over near midfield. Dodd hit Quron Pratt on an 18-yard pass on a first-and 25 play after an illegal hands to the face. It ignited a drive that James capped with an almost untouched run from the 5-yard line.
A muffed snap on the Bulls' next series was recovered by Darius Hamilton at the South Florida 24. Dodd was intercepted on first down by Brandon Salinas but a roughing the passer call allowed Rutgers to keep the ball. Dodd hit Patton on a crossing pattern on the next play to make it 14-0.
Kloss kicked a 24-yard field goal midway through the second quarter after a South Florida drive bogged down at the 7. But Dodd hit Burton for his short touchdown after connecting with tight end Tyler Kroft on a 24-yard pass to the 2.
Kloss added a second field goal just before the end of the half to cut the deficit to 21-6,
Rutgers put the game away with the only 10 points in the second half.
James scored from a yard out on a drive that he accounted for 58 of the 69 yards with 11 runs and a catch. Joe Behnke kicked a 20-yard field goal in the final minute.