Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Rutgers vs Iowa State

NEW YORK -- Game day is here as Rutgers takes on Iowa State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. With the Big East and Big 12 facing off, ScarletReport.com previews the action.

Rutgers (8-4, 4-3) vs. Iowa State (6-6, 3-6)


Time: 3:20 p.m., Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y..
TV/Radio: ESPN, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 97.5 FM, 88.7 WRSU
Series: First Meeting
Coaches: Rutgers – Greg Schiano (11th season, 67-67); Iowa State – Paul Rhoads (3rd year 18-19)

Storylines

  • The End. Win or lose, this is the last dose of Rutgers football until the spring game in late April. Rutgers has a chance to go out on a high note after blowing its chances at a Big East title in the regular-season finale against Connecticut. Rutgers has twice as many wins and half as many sacks as in 2010, but can send one more message with a victory over a solid Big 12 foe.

  • Last Game? Khaseem Greene has already said that tomorrow's game will not be his last as a Scarlet Knight, but Mohamed Sanu's future remains uncertain. Sanu will announce his NFL choice within a week of the bowl game, he said, and is not leaning one way or the other.

  • Quarterback Controversy. Not so much a controversy as indecision, coach Greg Schiano said there is a good chance both Chas Dodd and Gary Nova play tomorrow and he does not know which will start. Both compiled winning records as starters this season and led comebacks off the bench. Dodd finished his sophomore season with 1,398 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. As a true freshman, Nova threw for 1,533 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Scouting Iowa State

Since Jared Barnett took over as the Iowa State quarterback five games ago, the Cyclones put up 22 points per game, including 37 on No. 2 Oklahoma State. Iowa State has a balanced offensive attack and uses Barnett in both the running and passing game. The shifty quarterback has 1,178 passing yards, six touchdowns and six picks. On the ground, he is second on the team with 434 yards and 4.4 yards per carry. James White leads all rushers with 701 yards. Darius Reynolds leads receivers with seven touchdowns and 655 yards.

Quarterback Jared Barnett
Defensively, the focus is on Iowa State's two linebackers, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. Klein, who earned a share of Big 12 Player of the Year, logged 101 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and two sacks this season. Knott led the Cyclones with 107 tackles.

Matchup to Watch
Iowa State wide receiver Darius Reynolds vs. Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan. For the Cylcones to move the ball against the Scarlet Knights, they need to beat the Rutgers receivers one-on-one. With the amount of unique blitz packages from Schiano's defense, Ryan and Brandon Jones need to play like lockdown corners in one-on-one situations..

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Run That Ball.If the Scarlet Knights can run for 200 yards against Cincinnati, they can do it against anybody. With a month to figure out the best five starters on the offensive line and work on the running game, Rutgers needs big games from Jawan Jamison and Jeremy Deering.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
Blitz Successfully.Iowa State has not seen a team that blitzes like Rutgers all season. According to ISU tackle Kelechi Osemele, nothing the Rutgers defense does is orthodox. With a month to plan, Schiano needs to draw up exotic blitzes to pressure Barnett and force turnovers.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
WR Mark Harrison
1. Get Others Involved. Iowa State knows all about Sanu. The Cyclones will do everything possible to contain him, but a heavy focus on Sanu means receivers like Mark Harrison and Brandon Coleman can get chances.

2. Be Decisive. The last thing Rutgers needs is to waffle between quarterbacks all game. That is what happened last year and look where it got them. Let one of the quarterbacks establish a rhythm and stick with him.

3. Special Teams. Rutgers made the special teams play to win the game last time at Yankee Stadium. A blocked punt and return for touchdown was the decisive play against Army.

Three keys for an Iowa State win
1. Cover Sanu. It may sound like a no-brainer, but not a lot of teams have done it this season. Wherever Sanu lines up pre-play, find a way to get someone on him.

2. Protect Barnett. The young Iowa State quarterback admits he has never seen anything like the Rutgers defense. For him to establish a rhythm, he needs his protection to keep him from scrambling for his life.

3. Kick Returns. Rutgers showed some major vulnerabilities in the kick-return game against Connecticut and the poor performance kept the Scarlet Knights from ever starting a comeback.

Prediction
Rutgers 21, Iowa State 14

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