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News, insights and analysis on the Rutgers football program

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bowling in Canada

Greetings from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, where the Scarlet Knights take on Louisville in the final game of the regular season. It's the final game of any kind for 17 Louisville seniors, who are being honored now on the field. It is not the final game for the Knights, who formally accepted an invitation today to the International Bowl, Jan. 5 in Toronto.

The Knights, regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, will take on the No. 3 team from the Mid America Conference, which will likely be either Ball State or Bowling Green.

There's also news today on the Stadium front: Gov. Jon Corzine told the Star Ledger today his administration won't contribute the funds Rutgers thought it would toward the stadium expansion plan, meaning the plan might be dead.

As far as football is concerned, the Knights are 3-point underdogs against the Cardinals, who at 5-6 might be the most underachieving team in the country.

Louisville has been bad at some point this season and absolutely terribly during the last few weeks, including a 55-17 thumping at the hands of South Florida last week.

My prediction: the Cardinals will wake up and Brian Brohm and Co. will have enough to get past the Knights. My best guess at the score, which I put in today's paper, is Cardinals 34, Knights 28.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Knights win 20-16

It wasn't pretty, but Devin McCourty intercepted Pat Bostick's pass in the end zone with 11 seconds left, sealing a 20-16 Rutgers victory and making it more than likely that the Knights are bowl-bound for a third straight year.

17-10 Knights at the half

Thank God. The one of the ugliest halves you'll ever see is finally over.

The Scarlet Knights lead 17-10 despite committing three turnovers and struggling on offense for most of the half.

Let's hope the second half features some better football for both teams. It's hard to imagine it being any worse.

10-10 after one

Pitt is a pretty bad team, but if you give a bad team the ball at your 12 yard line, they're going to score.

That's what happened after Jabu Lovelace was sacked and fumbled, and the Panthers recovered and scored -- six plays later -- to take a 10-7 lead.

Mike Teel hit Kenny Britt down the left sideline for a 53-yard touchdown passs (just like the Good Ol Days earlier this year) to tie it at 10.

Alomst Game Time

We're a couple minutes away from kickoff, and the seniors who are playing their last game today are being introduced and running out on the field one by one. They were introduced in alphabetical order, so Jeremy Zuttah came out last, to a loud ovation from the crowd.

It's tough to tell because people are still making their way in from the parking lot, but it looks like there will be some empty seats when we get going, especially in the student sections.

One thing's for sure: we know the students aren't in Gainesville, Fla. for the men's basketball game tonight.

Two changes to the starting lineup: Kevin Haslam will start at left tackle for the injured Pedro Sosa, and Jamaal Westerman will be back in the starting lineup at defensive end over freshman Alex Silvestro.

There are no changes to the starting lineups for Pitt.

Who wants a bowl berth?

Greetings from a chilly Rutgers Stadium, where the Scarlet Knights can take a big step towards postseason play with a win over Pittsburgh. If Rutgers (6-4) wins and Louisville (5-5) loses later today to South Florida, the Scarlet Knights would clinch at least the Big East's fifth bowl spot.

There's still a chance the Scarlet Knights could gain a berth to Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve in El Paso. But there's also a chance they could be left out of the bowl picture all together. That's why today's game is so important.

Pitt isn't good by any stretch of the imagination, but the Panthers are playing significantly better now than they were four or five weeks ago. They've won two of their last three and aren't mathematically eliminated from bowl contention or even from a share of the Big East championship.

The one thing Rutgers really should be afriad of is freshman running back LeSean McCoy, who's had the best season of any Big East running back not named Ray Rice. He's good enough to partially make up for Pitt's inept play at quarterback, where they start a true freshman, and wide receiver, where they start two sophomores.

We're still more than an hour away from kickoff, so grab a cup of coffee, make sure everyone else in your house knows the TV is yours for the next 12 hours, and get ready for a heck of a day in college football.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Knights lose 38-19

Big East title? Forget it. Sun Bowl? Forget it? Meineke Car Care Bowl? bowl? Forget them, too.

Rutgers will be fighting for its postseason life -- which likely will include a trip to the International Bowl if anything -- during its last three games after getting thumped by UConn 38-19.

32-19 Huskies after three

But after another rushing first down by UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen, the Huskies have the ball at the Rutgers 10-yard line to start the fourth quarter. A touchdown here could make it impossible for the Knights to dig out of this hole.

32-19 Huskies with 3:03 left in the third

A touchdown run by Donald Brown increased the Huskies lead to 13, and Jeremy Ito missed a 37-yard field goal on the Knights' ensuing posession. Rutgers has one touchdown in six trips to the red zone.

25-16 Huskies at the half

The way Rutgers has played on defense and special teams, the Knights are lucky to be in this game at half time.

They've given up a safety on a blocked punt and a 97-yard touchdown run on a kickoff return.

But the Knights have out-gained the Huskies 307-150 in total offense and have three Jeremy Ito field goals in addition to a touchdown run by Ray Rice.

Game Time

Interesting day so far in college football, including what looks like South Florida's third straight loss, and last-minute wins by Navy over Notre Dame and Michigan over Michigan State.

Still plenty of people making their way into the stadium from the parking lots as we get set to kick off. The one major change in the Knights' starting lineup is Alex Silvestro starting in place of Jamaal Westerman at defensive end. According to the Rutgers sports information staff, there's nothing wrong with Westerman; Greg Schiano just wanted to give Silvestro the start.

It's chilly (47 degrees) out but the rain looks like it's stopped. Hoefully it'll be a relatively clean game, but don't count on either team passing the ball much, or with much success.

Rutgers will receive the kickoff to start the game.

More at the end of the first quarter.

Greetings from Rentschler Field

It's cold. It's rainy. It's windy. It is, without a doubt, football weather.

And it also is, without a doubt, a must-win game for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are a 2-point underdog and an unranked team playing on the road against the 16th-ranked team in the country (and the 13th-place team in the BCS standings.)

But if Rutgers wants this to go down as any kind of a successful season, it HAS to beat UConn, no matter how hot the Huskies are.

I'm here rediculously early. There are a couple of scouts here (one from the Steelers, one from the Giants) and only one other reporter. But I'm gonna meet a couple of college buddies and have a hot dog or two in the parking lot when they get here, so I thought I'd settle in to the press box before heading back outside and into the rain.

I'll check back in in a couple of hours with some pregame observations. And before I go, a welcome note to any fans who don't normally follow the game on this blog but are tonight because they don't get ESPNU (Does anyone other than people who live or work on campus at Rutgers get it???)

In the meantime, enjoy Cincinnati-South Florida on ABC.