Time: 12:01p.m., Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Conn.
TV/Radio: ESPN2, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 97.5 FM, 88.7 WRSU
Series: Rutgers leads 21-9
Last meeting: Oct. 8, 2010: Rutgers won, 27-24
Coaches: Rutgers – Greg Schiano (11th season, 67-66); Connecticut – Paul Pasqualoni (1st season at Connecticut, 4-6, 20th overall season, 139-78-1)
- The Big Game.This is it. A Rutgers win means at least a share of its first Big East Championship. At best, multiple dominoes fall today and Rutgers is headed to the BCS with a win. At worst, with a win, Rutgers has its first conference title and finishes 9-3.
- Rivalry Game. Rutgers has had Connecticut's number the last three times, but that has not stopped some close games and memorable moments. Chas Dodd went off in his first career start to beat the Huskies last year. Tom Savage and Tim Brown made the play of the 2009 season on an 81-yard pass to win it in the last minute. And in 2008, Rutgers got to 2-5 on the season thanks to a safety by Blair Bines against Donald Brown.
- Rutgers vs. Pasqualoni. Pasqualoni takes over at Connecticut where the Huskies are struggling in his first year. But the long-time Syracuse head coach historically has Rutgers' number. In 14 seasons as the head coach at Syracuse, he went 12-2 against the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers likes to refer to the Connecticut game as a "final exam." That makes sense for a lot of reasons. The Scarlet Knights face another top running back, after stopping both Ray Graham from Pittsburgh and Isiah Pead from Cincinnati in victories. UConn's Lyle McCombs is over 1,000 yards on the season and runs behind a tough offensive line. Connecticut uses two quarterbacks in Johnny McEntee and Scott McCummings. McEntee runs the pro-style system and McCummings operates out of the gun-run. Rutgers has seen and succeeded against both styles, but showed vulnerabilities in the spread against Ohio and West Virginia.
|Running back Lyle McCombs|
|WR Mark Harrison|
2. Spread the Wealth. Receiver Mark Harrison has two big games against Connecticut in his career and Brandon Coleman is nearly uncover-able when he is on his game.
3. Special Teams. The last three Rutgers and Connecticut games came down to just one or two plays. If Rutgers makes the one big return or block, that could be the difference.
2. Motivation. Connecticut is nowhere near the title chase but still has a reason to take the field. For one, it is senior day. But more importantly, Connecticut needs to win out to become bowl eligible.
3. Special Teams Execution. This goes both ways. Connecticut stayed in contention in 2009 with a huge kick return. Assistant coach Robb Smith has to be on his game like he has been all season.