Top 5 Games on 2011 Schedule

Turning the calendars to June and concluding the spring evaluation period, introduces a new series. The "30 lists in 30 days" series is designed to lead us into the camp circuit. Have your own thoughts on one of our lists? Feel free to debate on the message boards. Today and yesterday, we look at the top games on tap for the 2011 season.

5.) At Syracuse: Oct. 1 — The first Big East game on the schedule, Rutgers returns to the Carrier Dome after the embarrassing nine-sack fiasco Tom Savage's freshman year.

This year it's Dodd's turn to battle the elements. Syracuse, under Doug Marrone, is a chance for Rutgers to begin conference play with a win for the second consecutive season.

4.) Cincinnati: Nov. 19 — Since the famous loss at Nippert Stadium in 2006, Rutgers simply cannot best the Bearcats. This year, with Brian Kelly out of the way and playing at home, the Scarlet Knights need to stop the skid before it approaches West Virginia territory.

Oh and it's Senior Day.

3.) At Connecticut: Nov. 26 — The Huskies were the only conference team to lose to Rutgers last year and they went on to win the Big East. With all the parity in the conference, who knows? This regular-season finale could be for the Big East Championship.

Even if it isn't, this game will without a doubt have heavy postseason implications for Rutgers and is the first time back to East Hartford, Conn., since the dramatic Tim Brown catch in 2009. The last three Rutgers/Connecticut games ended dramatically and in Rutgers favor.

2.) At North Carolina: Sept. 10 — Building up steam going into Big East play is huge for Rutgers. A win over the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C., likely makes Rutgers undefeated for the start of conference play.

The meeting between the Scarlet Knights and Tar Heels is the first in North Carolina since the tight win to kick off the magical 2006 campaign for Rutgers. UNC won its last two games against Rutgers, both at Rutgers Stadium, including the 44-12 debacle in 2008.

Then there's the Greg Schiano/Butch Davis student vs. teacher storyline.

Then there's the fact that the two frequently butt heads in recruiting, including Savon Huggins picking Rutgers over UNC earlier this year.

It may be a non-conference game, but there is a lot of meaning behind this game and is a great early barometer for Rutgers' season.

1.) West Virginia: Oct. 29 — Each year, the losing streak gets uglier, but each year seems like the year Rutgers ends things.

Whether it was in 2006 with everything on the line or in 2007 after the dramatic South Florida win or 2008 after Rich Rodriguez jumped ship, Rutgers always has something going in its favor.

This year is no difference.

Bill Stewart is out in Morgantown, WV. and Noel Devine is an undrafted free agent in the NFL and Rutgers has WVU at home. Like always, this year could be the year.

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