Regular Season Review: Rutgers

After a 9-3 finish, Scarlet Reports' Sam Hellman reviews Rutgers' 2012 regular season and looks to the future.

1. With the regular season over, has Rutgers met or failed expectations?

The 2012 Scarlet Knights exceeded national expectations but failed to reach the expectations the program had for itself. Rutgers began the season 7-0 with sights set on a Big East championship and the first BCS berth in the 143-year history of the program. Rutgers, instead, lost three of its last five games and blew an 11-point second-half lead against Louisville that would have sent them to the Orange or Sugar Bowl. A 9-3, 5-2 finish earned Rutgers its first share of a Big East title, however, something that long-time coach Greg Schiano never did in his 11 years with the program.

2. What one player has made the difference this season?

Running back Jawan Jamison. In many ways, Rutgers went as Jamison ran. The first tailback to reach 1,000 yards at Rutgers since Ray Rice, the Scarlet Knights were never the same offense after he suffered an ankle injury in game eight against Army. Rutgers went 1-2 after Jamison's injury and averaged just 11 points per game. The sophomore finished the regular season with 1,054 yards and four touchdowns.

3. What are the key improvements that need to be made before the bowl game?

Rutgers needs to find a way to run the ball more consistently. The Scarlet Knights are most successful when controlling the clock, winning the field position battle and out-grinding their opponents. In the three losses of the season, Rutgers averaged just 67 rushing yards per game.

4. What has been the dominant headline of the regular season?

Rutgers became one of the biggest winners in conference realignment by getting out of the sinking Big East and joining the Big Ten. Financially, academically, competitively and with the goals of bringing a national title to Piscataway, N.J., the Big Ten offers dramatic improvements from the Big East and became the masterpiece of athletic director (and former Rutgers football player) Tim Pernetti.

5. If the recruiting class stays intact, what are your expectations for next season?

Rutgers should expect a similar season in 2013. Possibly their last in the Big East, the Scarlet Knights return the majority of their offense and bring perhaps the deepest defensive line in the conference. As always, there will be questions to answer, specifically at defensive back and linebacker. The Big East, however, is extremely winnable with the departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse and Rutgers brings a junior quarterback and will not have to overhaul its entire coaching staff in the offseason.

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