Game Preview: Rutgers at Cinicnnati

CINCINNATI – No. 22 Rutgers returns to the site of multiple crushing losses with maintaining first place in the Big East as the goal. The Scarlet Knights ended a five-year skid to Cincinnati last year and are three wins away from an Orange Bowl berth.

No. 22 Rutgers (8-1, 4-0) at Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1)

Time: 12 noon, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV/Radio: SNY, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 610-WIP, 88.7 WRSU
Series: Series tied 8-8-1
Last meeting: Nov. 19, 2011, Rutgers won 20-3
Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (1st Season, 8-1); Cincinnati – Butch Jones (6th season, 48-26, 3rd at Cincinnati, 21-13)

Storyline Central

  • Horror House -- Whatever the reason, Rutgers has never shown it can win in Cincinnati and suffered arguably the most crushing loss in school history there in 2006. The stakes are as high as they were in '06 tomorrow when Rutgers travels to Nippert Stadium, a place at which the Scarlet Knights have not won in 25 years.

  • Driver's Seat -- Rutgers controls its own destiny to an undisputed Big East championship but has nothing except for a bowl berth guaranteed at this point. Every game the rest of the way truly becomes a Big East championship game for a program searching for its first crown. A win over Cincinnati essentially makes it a two-horse race between Rutgers and Louisville, whereas a loss drops Rutgers into a three-way tie for the lead and below the other two schools in terms of tie-breakers.

  • New World Order -- Rutgers and Cincinnati each could have a huge personnel change coming for tomorrow. For the Scarlet Knights, star running back Jawan Jamison (ankle) did not practice most of the week and is 75 percent for kick. For the Bearcats, Brendon Kay is set for his second start after replacing Munchie Legaux at quarterback. How former backups fare in new roles will determine the outcome.

Matchup to Watch
Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay vs. Rutgers front seven.

New starting quarterback Kay found success in his debut against Temple, but the Owls secondary is used to getting picked apart at this point. How will Kay fare against a much more aggressive defense? The Scarlet Knights victimized Munchie Legaux last season and how the offense responds with a new starting quarterback is the key to victory.

Scarlet Knights Win If…
They start stronger. Rutgers cannot get off to a slow start against Cincinnati. The Bearcats offense significantly more potent than Army or Temple and a slow start could be devastating for the Scarlet Knights. It is a lot harder to battle back against an offense that has some potency.

QB Gary Nova
Bearcats Win If …
They win in the trenches Cincinnati can get to the quarterback and needs to do so to beat the Scarlet Knights. Quarterback Gary Nova is most effective when he has enough time to make his reads in the passing game and the potential loss of Jamison hurts in pass-blocking. Get to Nova and force mistakes and the Bearcats gain the upper hand.


Impact Player
OLB Khaseem Greene— Greene made 22 tackles against Army and may need to be involved in 22 more to slow down Cincinnati. The Bearcats run multiple offensive schemes and Rutgers needs a big day from Greene in stopping soon-to-be 1,000-yard rusher George Wynn and protecting the middle of the field.

OLB Khaseem Greene
Something to Prove
WR Mark Harrison — Harrison looked like a first-round draft pick two years ago when he went for 240 yards and four touchdowns at Nipper Stadium. Since then, Harrison has been inconsistent and needs to get more involved in the offense. Harrison has four games left in a Rutgers uniform and has all the physical tools to make them count.

Looking to Build
RB Savon Huggins — Huggins filled in well for Jamison last week and scored a touchdown in the 28-7 victory over Army. With or without Jamison, Huggins will need to play a role in the Cincinnati game and getting some confidence back in a solid showing against the Black Knights is huge.

Freshman to Watch
RB Paul James — The redshirt freshman walk-on jumps to second on the depth chart if Jamison cannot go. James did nothing but learn the offense and develop physically during his time in the program. According to Flood, he showed in practice that he is ready to play. Predictions: Hellman: 21-17 Cincinnati,

Dohn: 27-24 Rutgers

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