Rutgers can become bowl eligible for the first time in 13 years with a victory Saturday over Navy.
The Scarlet Knights improved to 5-2 and 3-2 in the Big East last weekend with a 26-24 comeback win at Connecticut. Rutgers has not played in a bowl game since making an appearance in the 1978 Garden State Bowl. A win over the Midshipmen would also guarantee Rutgers its first winning season since 1992.
But it won't be easy. Rutgers goes into this critical homecoming contest with a quarterback controversy swirling around the locker room.
A week after being benched in favor of freshman Mike Teel, senior QB Ryan Hart came off the sidelines last week to throw three touchdowns in the second half and lead Rutgers to its come-from-behind victory at Connecticut.
Coach Greg Schiano said he inserted Hart at the start of the second half because Teel had a shoulder injury. But the coach also made it clear that he wasn't too happy with the play of Teel, who went 10-for-22 for 176 yards and threw two costly interceptions.
"In the first half we made a lot of mistakes," Schiano said.
Notes and Quotes
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Who will start Saturday? Experienced senior QB Ryan Hart or strong-armed freshman Mike Teel? It may not matter if freshman running back Ray Rice runs like he did a week ago when he rushed for 217 yards, the fourth-highest single-game total in school history.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: After holding Connecticut to 97 yards rushing last week, the Scarlet Knights will have to be on their game again against a Navy team that ranks third in the nation in rushing with 272.7 yards per game. This is a huge test for a quick, but undersized Rutgers front four.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Something happened to me at halftime. I haven't really said much this year, but I was pretty vocal in the locker room. I went around to a lot of guys, especially the linemen. I remember going up to (fifth-year offensive tackle) Sameeh McDonald and telling him, 'We've worked too hard not to get paid. We've worked too hard to settle for what's going on.'" - Freshman RB Ray Rice on Rutgers second-half comeback against UConn.
Strategy and Personnel
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Ryan Hart -- Coach Greg Schiano seems content to play musical chairs at QB, but he may have a tough time replacing Hart after the senior threw three big TDs during last week's second half comeback against Connecticut. QB Mike Teel -- Was it a shoulder injury or the two interceptions that earned Teel a spot on the bench in the second half last week? No one knows for sure, so expect to see the freshman take some snaps Saturday.
RB Ray Rice -- In a conference filled with plenty of good young running backs, Rice is beginning to make a name for himself. His 217 yards last week was the most ever in a single game by a Rutgers freshman.
DE Val Barnaby -- The senior had a sack and finished with two tackles last week. He'll have to have another strong game against Navy's potent rushing attack.
DE Ryan Neil -- The Scarlet Knights' defensive leader will likely be a big factor as Rutgers tries to halt Navy's triple-option attack.
ROSTER REPORT: OL Jeremy Zuttah (leg) is expected to miss Saturday's game against Navy. LB Will Gilkison (groin) and QB Mike Teel (shoulder) are questionable. Linebacker Terry Bynes (knee), defensive lineman Eric Foster (knee) and defensive back Jason Nugent (knee) are out for the remainder of the season.