Rutgers is a whopping favorite to go to 3-0 for the first time since 1981. After that, Division I-AA Howard comes calling -- and Rutgers could be 4-0 since 1980.
People are noticing.
"I think we have a real excitement in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area about Rutgers football," RU coach Greg Schiano said Monday.
They should. Last year produced the first winning season since 1992 and the first bowl trip since '78. But, as Schiano and his players are quick to point out, two wins are nice but will mean nothing if the Knights don't take it from here and run to bigger and better things.
Last week, they scored in all three phases of the game before the Illinois equipment bags were fully unpacked. It started with a blocked punt for a touchdown, continued with an interception return -- and THEN the offense got involved in the blowout.
This week could be more of the same.
Notes and Quotes
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: With All-American Brian Leonard getting a lot of the attention of the opposing defenses, Ray Rice continues to run wild -- and Rutgers continues to show it has so many ways it can beat you. The offense really didn't have to do much against Illinois, but Mike Teel has been just fine.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The big play -- the 39-yard interception return for a touchdown by Devin McCourty -- set the tone last week, and the Scarlet Knights recorded their first shutout in six years. Illinois didn't get past its own 48 and was 0-for-12 on third-down conversions. QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a good start, but that's all it is. We still have a long way to go." -- Rutgers DT Eric Foster on his team's 2-0 start.
Strategy and Personnel
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Ohio at Rutgers, Sept. 9 -- Talking about the visitors from the MAC, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano says, "They're 2-0 and certainly feeling very good about their football team so it's going to be a very good game." But Rutgers is heavily favored, playing at home, which means something now, and shouldn't stumble in Week 3.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Ray Rice -- His 108 yards on 23 carries earned a spot on the Big East's weekly honor roll, and Rice has four straight 100-yard games, the third-longest streak in school history (the record is seven, by JJ Jennings).
P Joe Radigan -- His school-record 78-yarder against Illinois was part of a four-punt day that produced a 50.5 average and a Big East special teams player of the week honor.
LB Devraun Thompson -- He led the Knights in tackles, with eight, in a game that saw the Rutgers defense keep Illinois from getting past its own 48 the entire afternoon.
ROSTER REPORT: Schiano expects one defensive back, Jason McCourty, to return from injury, but the Knights lost cornerback Leslie Jackman for the season with a knee injury. He will take a medical redshirt for the year.
All others are expected to play.