Rutgers (3-7, 1-6) vs. Army (2-8)
Time – Noon, Michie Stadium, West Point, N.Y.
TV/Radio – CBS Sports Network, 1450 AM WCTC, 710 AM WOR
Series – Rutgers leads 21-18
Last meeting – Nov. 10, 2012, Rutgers won 28-7
Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (4th season, 26-23); Army – Jeff Monken (6th season 44-31, 2nd at Army, 6-15)
Passion – Rutgers does not have much hope when it comes to a post-season, so the last two games come down to passion and respect. Does the Rutgers locker room come together? The Scarlet Knights can either show some fight or pack it in for the final two games, and it’s up to Flood and his team captains to get the most out of the roster.
Return of the Grant – Janarion Grant is a legitimate All-American candidate on special teams, and a matchup where he has a clear athletic advantage makes him one to watch. If Army kicks to Grant, the Rutgers all-time return leader, watch out.
Hunting Season – Andre Hunt introduced himself to the Rutgers fan base in last year’s triple option game. The hard-working walk-on and converted running back matches up well against the triple option. After his struggles in pass coverage, Army is the perfect week to get back on track.
Matchup to Watch
Rutgers Defense vs Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw
Rutgers cannot stop the triple option unless it contains the quarterback. Bradshaw is a solid weapon on the ground with 58 yards per game and five rushing touchdowns, but he can throw if Army successfully lulls Rutgers to sleep. Bradshaw attempts six passes per game with five touchdowns on the season.
Scarlet Knights win if …
They Get Healthy – Rutgers has literally half of its starters injured in some capacity in the build up to kickoff. A Rutgers team without names like Anthony Cioffi, Dorian Miller, Steve Longa and Kaiwan Lewis looks a lot different than one that is healthy. Rutgers has to work in some young offensive linemen. That job becomes even more challenging if Joe Rossi’s defense is as depleted as the injury report suggests.
Black Knights Win if …
Discipline Becomes a Factor – Army has a clear advantage in the discipline category. Based on its unique offensive attack, Army’s opponents commit an average of seven penalties for 50 yards in each game. Rutgers has its discipline issues on special teams and could also be mistake-prone on defense. Sixteen members of the defensive two-deep face their first college triple option at Army.
OLB Quentin Gause – Gause does not take plays off, and he is the MVP of the Rutgers defense. Rutgers needs its defensive team captain to lead against a unique offense. After consecutive 15-tackle games against Wisconsin and Ohio State earlier this year, Gause could build upon that career high with his role against the run.
Something to Prove
OL Chris Muller– Muller and his teammates made their disappointment clear after so many struggles in pass protection in recent game. The pressure falls onto Muller as the anchor of a banged up interior line. Muller could work at guard or center against Army, and his leadership is key with other young players that could break into the starting rotation.
Looking to Build
TE Charles Scarff – The sophomore walk-on improved as a blocker throughout the season. He represents a solid receiving option for Laviano. Scarff caught three passes against Nebraska. His mix of size and athleticism creates a natural matchup problem against a smaller Army defense.
Freshman to Watch
OL Marcus Applefield – Applefield has some experience as a backup, but could make his first-career start against Army. Applefield was the highest-rated of Flood’s 2014 offensive line class, and is the closest to a starting role after his initial red-shirt season.