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Rutgers vs. Cincinnati preview: Scarlet Knights battle for first place

RUfootball111811_optBY MATT SUGAM
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
Three and out
Rutgers needs to stop the run
That’s easier said than done. Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead leads the Big East with 6.0 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns while running for 934 yards. And he’ll likely get more touches with quarterback Zach Collaros out for the season. Plus, the Scarlet Knights defense has been putrid as of late. After giving up 94.2 rushing yards per game through the first five games, Rutgers has given up 201.6 rushing yards per game in the last five. Not to mention allowing a 100-yard rusher in all five of their conference games.
Can Rutgers run the ball effectively?
Probably not. The Bearcats have the best rushing defense in the conference and the second best in the country holding teams to 81.4 yards per game. Rutgers anemic rushing offense is last in the Big East and 118th (out of 120) in the country with 90.4 yards per game. Don’t expect this to be a game where the Knights have success running the football.
How will the team react to a defacto Big East Championship game?

With a win, Rutgers would hold a share of first place in the Big East. (There’s too many scenarios for who can win the Big East and how). While Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano’s mantra is “every game is a Big East Championship game” because the eight-team league doesn’t have a title game, this one truly is. How a team full of guys who’ve never played in a game of this much importance this late in the season reacts will be key.

This game's key guy is…

Greg Schiano

As of late, Schiano has struggled against the Bearcats. Since beating them in 2005 to become bowl eligible for the first time in his tenure, Schiano hasn’t beaten Cincinnati. And the last two outings have been embarrassments for the defense (116 points and 1,125 yards). As the defensive play-caller who revamped the unit to have more speed to stop spread offenses like Cincinnati's, Schiano’s preparation and in-game decisions are a major factor.

The sophisticated fan will be watching…

Munchie Legaux

Ok, so you always watch the quarterback considering they touch the ball every play. But the 6-5, 203 pound sophomore is now the starter for the remainder of the season with Collaros out with a broken ankle. Despite his inexperience, Legaux led Cincinnati back form a 10-point deficit in the second half last week to take the lead against West Virginia. With not much film available, he’s a threat the Knights know little about.

Fourth and short

Rutgers 16 seniors will be honored prior to kickoff for senior day. As Schiano notes, there’s no time for nostalgia until after the season, because nothing ruins a special day more than a loss.

Quote of the week

“As I told them [the seniors], we’ll play a touch game in Rutgers Stadium in January if you’d like. We can have a whole festivity.” – Greg Schiano on senior day

For more Rutgers football coverage follow Matt Sugam on Twitter @MattSugam and on Facebook

 

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