BCI Fearless Predictions Rutgers

After having the Bearcats stop their perfect season last year, the Scarlet Knights will entertain UC looking to give them something to remember. Here's BCI's "Fearless Predictions" for the Big East opener against Rutgers.

Game 6: October 6, 2007 vs. Rutgers , Rutgers Stadium Piscataway NJ


Saturday November 18-th 2006, perhaps the greatest day in the history of The University of Cincinnati football program. The same date may be the worst in the history of the Rutgers program.


The Scarlet Nights came into Nippert 9-0, 7-th ranked team in the country, just off an upset over Louisville with dreams of a BCS bid. The dream quickly became a nightmare when DeAngelo Smith stepped in front of a Mike Teel pass and went down the sideline for a 2-nd quarter TD. Brent Celek sealed the deal in the 3-rd quarter with his 83 yard catch and run. The final score was 33 to 11, UC fans celebrated while Rutgers fans were left to wonder what if. Rutgers rebounded and finished 11-2 and will continue to be strong for 2007.


Rutgers stepped onto the national scene in 2006; they proved they can stay there when Head Coach Greg Schiano turned down Miami's (Fla.) 2.2 million and signed a contract extension thru 2016.


On offense the Scarlet Nights lost All Big East performers FB Brian Leonard, TE Clark Harris, and OL Cameron Stephenson. The also have to replace center Darnell Stapleton.


The Rutgers defense lost a couple of All Big East players in DT Ramel Meekins and LB Devraun Thompson to go along with DE William Beckford, LB Quintero Frierson, and CB Derrick Roberson.


Losing 9 starters of that caliber would be a sign of rebuilding for many programs but Rutgers has plenty coming back and should come into this game undefeated if the can handle Maryland at home the week prior.


Leading the way will be RB Ray Rice for his junior season. Ray Rice is a workhorse in the backfield, last year gaining 1,794 yards and scoring 20 TD's. With Brian Leonard gone don't expect Rice to become a one man show. Mike Teel is entering his Jr. year as a much improved passer. In the 8 games prior to UC last year he averaged 128 yard per game, in the 3 games after UC his per game passing average jumped to 230 yards. Rutgers averaged 38 points in those final 3 games.


Rutgers broke thru to the upper echelon of the Big East with Defense. This year 4 of the front 7 will be first year starters. Look for Jr Pete Tverdov to take over for Meekins at DT and So George Johnson to replace Beckford at DE, both have game experience and are good athletes that fit the Schiano style of defense which is a smaller (avg 260 lbs) more athletic player. The new linebackers are expected to be Jr Kevin Malast and So Chris Quaye. Malast played in all 13 games last year; Quaye is a bit short on experience having only played in 3 games a year ago.


The last few Rutgers recruiting classes have been strong groups, but in the two deep on both sides of the ball only 2 red shirt freshmen are listed, both as backups. A good sign that Greg Schiano is developing a very deep lineup that will sustain their success over time.


Why Rutgers will win this game?


Doug Goodwin: Winning on the road in major college football is difficult; when the opponent is as talented as Rutgers winning on the road becomes almost impossible. Rutgers has a great defense, a ravenous crowd will be on hand, and revenge will be talked about all week. Add Ray Rice to an improved Mike Teel and Rutgers looks very tough on offense.


Dave Berk: The Scarlet Knights have one of the top weapons in the Big East with Ray Rice.  Last year Teel's struggles at quarterback allowed teams to stack the box and win game as Cincinnati did.  This year with Teel being a year better he'll take advantage of one of the top young groups of receivers in the country.  Last year was a dream season and now the pressure is on for Greg Schiano and crew to continue their trek towards a Big East crown. By the time the Bearcats hit town Maryland will have been the toughest opponent.  The Knights will use their defense along with their passing game to defeat the Bearcats and take their first step towards the title and a BCS matchup.  


What does UC have to do to win?


Doug Goodwin: A copy of last season's game. Stop Ray Rice and harass Mike Teel into rushing his throws. On offense make big plays and keep the pressure on the Rutgers defense.


Dave Berk: The Bearcats must keep their cool and not look back at last year's game.  Both teams have seen some changes in personnel with Cincinnati having the biggest change to its entire coaching staff.  While there may be a different guy running the defense for the Bearcats he's got some of the same attitudes and will use pressure up front to force Mike Teel into throwing the ball before he wants.  Loading the box and getting pressure on Teel is a must while the play of the corner backs against a trio of receivers has to be at its highest for a road victory. Being smart on offense by not turning the ball over and playing special teams will determine the outcome.


Doug's Prediction: Very tough battle but the home team wins.  Rutgers takes it 24 to 21 with the outcome being decided late in the fourth quarter.


Dave's Prediction: I agree this game will be a battle but one the Bearcats can win.  Cincinnati and Rutgers match-up well against each other and the team that comes out early and has success controls the outcome of the game.  The Scarlet Knights will score more than eleven points in this one but come up short as the Bearcats offense becomes the talk of the Big East posting a 34-24 victory.  Why do you think we call these fearless predictions?


Bonus for Game 6


Doug Goodwin: It's hard not to like Rutgers; their history and situation is remarkably similar to UC's. What Rutgers has shown to all Bearcat fans is that it can be done.


Dave Berk: I agree with Doug that it's hard not to like what Greg Schiano has done entering his seventh season as the head coach.  But with more winning comes more pressure and the country is watching as Rutgers has enjoyed some nice recruiting classes the past few years.  Bearcat fans have been asking when a local Cincinnati product will bypass the major college programs to help the program take the next step, Anthony Davis did just that last year as he turned down all the major programs across the country to stay home and play for the Scarlet Knights.


But don't get lost in the fact Schiano still has a losing record (30-41) entering his seventh season.  The schedule sets up for a great run as Rutgers doesn't hit the road until mid October against Syracuse and only plays four games total on the road.  If the Knights can have a run like last season the whole country will be watching them battle Louisville for a BCS trip.

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