Freshman quarterback Mike Teel made his first career start at Rutgers a memorable one, throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights steamrolled Syracuse, 31-9, in the Carrier Dome.
The victory puts Rutgers (4-2, 1-1) right back in the chase for the Big East championship.
"I think Mike did a good job of managing the game," coach Greg Schiano said. "Certainly, he made some really nice plays and then he made some plays that I'm sure he'd like to get back, but I'm really proud of him."
Teel's mistakes included a pair of interceptions. But his miscues paled in comparison to the ones Rutgers forced Syracuse to commit. Scarlet Knights defensive back Corey Barnes returned a blocked punt and a fumble for touchdowns, and Rutgers forced five turnovers, while holding Syracuse to just 238 total yards.
"Corey Barnes epitomizes what we want our football team to be like," Schiano said. "We moved him to defensive back and he embraced it. He fought his rear end off."
Teel was solid in place of senior Ryan Hart, whose school record for consecutive starts ended at 32. Teel completed 13-of-27 passes and tossed two long touchdowns of 37 and 24 yards. Freshman Raymell Rice also had a strong game, rushing for a game-high 82 yards on 17 carries to lead a Rutgers offense that racked up 307 yards.
Schiano was clearly pleased with the spark Teel brought to the Scarlet Knights offense.
"We made a move at the quarterback position with the program in mind," he said. "Right now, that's where we're going. That's why we made the move."
Notes and Quotes
GAME BALL GOES TO: DB Corey Barnes -- The senior returned a blocked punt 16 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and a fumble 34 yards for a score in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
ALSO KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Mike Teel -- The redshirt freshman, making his first career start, showed off the strong arm that made him a top recruit two years ago, throwing touchdown passes of 37 and 24 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a good feeling, but it won't mean anything at all if we don't go out and do well next week. But, I think it is important. Slowly, you're starting to see Rutgers get some respect in the sport of football." -- Coach Greg Schiano on being 2-1 in the Big East.
Strategy and Personnel
LB Devra Thompson forced two fumbles, recorded a sack, and made seven tackles.
LB Quint Frierson led Rutgers with nine tackles and recovered a fumble.
STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Rutgers gained 304 yards of total offense, but Scarlet Knights quarterbacks Mike Teel and Tiquan Underwood combined to throw three interceptions. Rutgers QBs have now thrown six interceptions in the Scarlet Knights' last two games.
WR Tiquan Underwood again saw some action at QB, but the freshman may have hurt his chances for further playing time by going 0-for-1 with an interception.
FB Brian Leonard was busy again, rushing 18 times for 34 yards and catching four passes for 66 yards.
ROSTER REPORT: Rutgers reported no major additional injuries after the Syracuse game.