Rutgers won handily behind backup quarterback Chas Dodd and tailback Paul James, taking out Eastern Michigan 28-10. But all eyes fall on Nova and his health after taking two huge hits in the first quarter.
"I don't know right now what his status will be for the upcoming week," said coach Kyle Flood. "He could not return in the second half. He really was not available to us from the second quarter on."
Nova took a shot above the waist from multiple EMU defenders on the first play from scrimmage and left the game shortly after a rushing the passer penalty.
"At that point, he was not available to us," Flood said. "They re-evaluated him at halftime. …I have to see it on film. I really don't know just yet, but I'll look at it. We'll figure out exactly what it is."
Dodd started slowly in Nova's stead, but the offense had more than enough to put away heavy underdog Eastern Michigan. Dodd finished with 45 passing yards on nine attempts and needed a big day from James to pull away.
"We're hoping Gary is OK, but I'm going to prepare the same way no matter what," Dodd said. "I need to watch the film from today and make sure that I get ready for Arkansas. We're focused on Arkansas."
James ripped off three more touchdowns, including a 55-yard scamper to ice the game. James entered the game as the nation's fifth leading rusher and finished with 192 yards on 21 carries.
The story going into the day, which did not disappoint, came at halftime when Rutgers retired Eric LeGrand's No. 52. Following a speech from Flood, LeGrand received a video package from dozens of Rutgers football figures and spoke to the crowd about spinal cord awareness and support.
LeGrand announced the creation of Team LeGrand to raise funds and offered thank you messages to the fans and his support system.
"Help me get back on my feet and walk again," LeGrand said. "Always remember each and every day – believe. It's in me and it's in you guys, too."