After a very successful freshman year, where he threw for 2,211 yards, the most all-time by a true freshman in Big East history, and earning Freshman All-America honors, Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage is the key to success for the Scarlet Knights.
In his first collegiate action, Savage was 15-23 for 135 yards and one touchdown is last season's match-up after coming in for starter Domenic Natale, who threw three interceptions in the first half.
The offense for the Scarlet Knights is young, but full of potential.
Starting running back Joe Martinek returns, but the impact in the backfield could be fueled by two incoming freshmen; Casey Turner and Jawan Jamison. With Martinek putting up 967 yards last season as a bulldozer style runner, the speed and flair that Jamison and Turner can provide could add a whole new wrinkle to the Rutgers offense.
The offensive line will feature three new starters, which is always a question. Junior Art Forst, a starter since he was a freshman, was named to the Outland Trophy watch list for best offensive lineman in the country. Whether he plays guard or tackle this season, he will be the anchor for the o-line.
Fifth-year senior, Howard Barbieri has moved to center to sure up that important position.
The Bearcat offense torched the Scarlet Knight defense for 564 total yards last season, 396 coming through the air.
Their ugly play didn't last long, as the Rutgers defense finished first in the country in tackles for loss and second in turnover margin. Reports are that this is the quickest and most athletic defense in head coach, Greg Schiano's 10 years in Piscataway.
They return senior defensive ends Jonathan Freeny and Alex Silvestro. Freeny totaled nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss last season, while Silvestro had 42 tackles, 12 for loss. With the help of Freshman All-America tackle Scott Vallone, the d-line will be solid.
With the loss of their four top tacklers from last season, the Scarlet Knights will need help from the linebacker position and the secondary.
They are experienced at linebacker despite the loss of Ryan D'Imperio, and return three-year starting safety, Joe Lefeged.
Other than at safety, the competition is wide open in the rest of the secondary.
If there is one position you don't want to have questions about when facing the Bearcats and their offense, it is the secondary. Luckily, for Rutgers, they will have nine games to figure it out before they take on the Bearcats.
Prediction: 31-28 UC. This will be a battle, from the trenches to the secondary, but the talented Bearcat wide outs will be too much for the aforementioned questionable secondary of the Scarlet Knights. The UC defense will bend but won't break when the game is on the line, and the Bearcats will rebound from their first loss of the season.