Sunday, September 6, 2009


The moment is finally upon us. The Big East game of the week is undeniably Cincinnati at Rutgers. Kickoff is set for 4PM tomorrow (ESPN) in Piscataway at the newly expanded Rutgers Stadium (capacity 52,454). The Bearcats won last year's contest 13-10, holding Rutgers to only 62 rushing yards.

This year's games features two completely different teams, however, as Cincinnati is only returning one starter on defense (safety Aaron Webster) and Rutgers has lost some offensive firepower to the NFL. Mike Teel and Kenny Britt, perhaps the best QB-WR combination in the 140 year history of Rutgers Football, will be suiting up for Seahawks and Titans, respectively. Vegas has Rutgers as 5 point favorites which makes this game incredibly hard to pick. There are a few key questions that each team must answer to come away victorious:

1. Can the highly touted Rutgers defense contain Tony Pike (2,407 passing yards and 19 TDs in 2008) and Mardy Gilyard (1,276 receiving yards and 11 TDs in 2008)?

Part of the reason that last year's game was so close was that Pike did not play. The Knights will certainly have their hands full trying to stop the pass but should be able to contain the Bearcats running game which was 95th in the nation last year. Rutgers has depth at defensive line than it ever has under Schiano and also is solid at linebacker and in the defensive backfield.

2. Can the new Rutgers quarterback lead the team to victory in his first college start?

Although the Rutgers starting QB has not yet been revealed, it's the worst kept secret in history. Dom Natale will get the start while both Tom Savage and Jabu Lovelace will see some playing time. The inexperience of the Rutgers QB carousel may not be as much of a problem as it seems. Natale will have two reliable targets in Tim Brown and true freshman Mohammed Sanu (who is already drawing Kenny Britt comparisons). Cincinnati's inexperienced defense is also trying out a new alignment. First year defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is installing a 3-4 this year, which may not be the best of ideas against the run oriented Scarlet Knights. They return sophomores Joe Martinek and Jourdan Brooks who both showed signs of greatness last year, not to mention true freshman De'Antwan Williams who has been brilliant in camp so far. Rutgers also returns all 5 starters on the offensive line, anchored by Preseason All-American tackle Anthony Davis.

3. Will the enclosed endzone at the newly renovated Rutgers Stadium have an effect on Cincinnati?

Coach Schiano has already stated the the crowd noise has nowhere to escape now that south endzone has been enclosed. Will this rattle the Bearcats?

4. Can Rutgers come from behind if Cincinnati jumps out to an early lead?

How will Natale react if the Knights get down 14-0 in the first quarter? Will he be able to keep his poise in his first college start? Even worse, how will the 18 year old Tom Savage handle the situation if he is asked to?

All of these questions and more will be answered tomorrow in what could be the game of the year for both teams. Rutgers should win the game but won't cover. Final score: Rutgers 24 - Cincinnati 20.


Post a Comment