Rutgers runs a traditional pro-style offense, and that offense is run very efficiently by quarterback Gary Nova. In nine games this season, Nova has passed for nearly 2,000 yards with 19 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Most impressively, Nova is completing over 61% of his passes, good for a quarterback rating of 138.0. The sophomore from New Jersey has impressed this season with his accuracy and ability to run the offense. In the backfield, Rutgers boasts one of the most explosive tailbacks in the Big East in junior Jawan Jamison. Standing at 5-8, the speedster may not be as visually intimidating as some other backs, but at over 200 pounds, he can back a punch. Jamison is sitting at 953 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the season. At receiver, Brandon Coleman has proven to be the go-to guy. Coleman has hauled in eight touchdown passes on only 34 catches, good for first on the team. The strength in this offense lays in the balance they have achieved. Many teams have on clear strength on offense, whether it be the passing game or the rushing attack. Rutgers boasts weapons behind center and in the backfield. If the Cincinnati defense is to shut down the Scarlet Knights, they are going to have to play a complete game defensively, something they have yet to do this season. They must stay disciplined, and limit the big plays.
The Rutgers defense is lead by senior linebacker Khaseem Greene. The senior has been all over the field for the Scarlet Knights this season, racking up 96 tackles to go along with 3.5 sacks and two interceptions. Without a doubt, Greene is the most dangerous play lining up opposite the Cincinnati offense. Not far behind is cornerback Ryan Logan. The junior is the leading tackler in Rutgers secondary with 62 tackles to go along with three interceptions to lead the team. Logan has the size, at 6-0, 190, that coach's desire in a lockdown corner and could be a menace all day on the Cincinnati receivers. Senior Scott Vallone is the leader along the Rutgers defensive line, leading the team in tackles for loss at 7.5. These three players are the leaders of this Scarlet Knight defensive unit and will look to slow down the vaunted Cincinnati rushing attack.
How Cincinnati can win
Coach Jones mentioned in his pre-game press conference that Rutgers is the most complete team UC has faced all season, meaning this will be Cincinnati's greatest test. Rutgers boasts talent on both sides of the ball and have yet to lose a game in Big East play. With Cincinnati, we saw the emergence of Brendon Kay at quarterback last week against an inferior Temple team. If UC wants to win this game, they are going to need Kay to continue his development this week. He wasn't asked to do too much against Temple, allowing the running game to make plays and Kay to become a "game-manager". Against a more talented Rutgers defense, I'm not sure Kay will be allowed that convenience. If the Bearcats want to continue with their previous gamelan, they're going to need a strong showing from the rushing attack, meaning the offensive line HAS GOT to win the battle for the line of scrimmage. Opening up holes for George Winn and Ralph David Abernathy IV is crucial to opening up the UC offense. However, I expect Rutgers to stack the box in hopes of shutting down the Bearcats rushing attack, putting the game squarely in the hands of Kay. Hopefully, Brendon has learned enough in the past game and a half to lead this offense effectively. We will see come noon Saturday.