PISCATAWAY – Who would've thought one of the worst rushing teams in the country would have Jawan Jamison run for 200 yards and two touchdowns against the second ranked rushing defense in the country?
Who would've thought, after averaging 6.0 yards per carry, Isiah Pead would average 2.0 yards per carry on 14 rushes against a team that gave up 201.6 rushing yards per game the last five games?
Who would've thought after giving up 69 points and 551 yards last season, the Scarlet Knights would hold the Bearcats to three points and 225 yards?
Who would've thought Rutgers — picked to finish last in the Big East preseason poll — would be tied for first in the conference with one game left?
Quite frankly, no one did. But now, in the unlikeliest of fashions, the Knights are on the verge of winning the Big East — if they get a little help — with a 20-3 victory over Cincinnati.
“It’s a great day for all these seniors. They’ve been looking forward to it and waiting for it,” Chas Dodd (19 of 33, 173 yards) said of a chance to win the conference. “For me personally, it’s just a big step. Being able to do this from last year to this year, is just a big jump. I’m just excited about where it could go.”
Which may very well be Rutgers' first ever BCS game. With losses by West Virginia and Louisville and a win next week vs. UConn, Rutgers would win the Big East. And there’s countless other scenarios where the Knights could win the conference if it comes down to tiebreakers with three or more teams.
“It means a lot. It is what every competitor is in it for,” 11-year head coach Greg Schiano said. “We are not there yet, but we are going to have a chance next week.”
As for the game where Rutgers had its most complete outing of the year, Jamison knew early on he’d have the best performance of his young career.
“After my second carry, when I broke up the middle and scored I realized it was going to be a very good day,” the redshirt freshman said. “Coaches told me you keep running hard, you keep running physical, keep running down hill, no shake moves, no pitter-patter and we’re going to feed you the ball.”
And that’s exactly what the Knights did. With 34 carries, Jamison helped Rutgers control the clock for 38:14.
“38 minutes was our time of possesion?” a surprised Scott Vallone said. “That’s big for a defense to be able to rest and adjust and do things like that and keep their offense off the field. It’s a good offense and we were able to keep them at home and keep them off the field because of our running game and the offensive game plan.”
After the aforementioned 12-yard touchdown run by Jamison early in the first quarter, Cincy would kick a field goal with 4:38 left in the first.
San San Te would notch a chip shot from 19 yards out late in the second quarter, giving Rutgers a 10-3 lead.
Jamison would extend Rutgers' lead with a 1-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
“It feels good, but one more to go. I said it as soon as the game is over. We’ve got one more to go,” Vallone said. “We’ve never been in this position before and obviously we still need some help or whatever the scenarios are, but we got to take care of business next week if we want a chance at the BCS bid.”