Rutgers Team Report

OK, everyone who thought Rutgers would be 6-0, ranked No. 19 in both polls and No. 16 in the first BCS standings, with an average computer rank of No. 9, stand up and take a bow. Sit down, you're lying.

While the schedule was soft and the potential was certainly there for six consecutive wins after what the program had already accomplished last year, not many would have thought the Scarlet Knights would be one of seven undefeated teams in the country (three of them from the Big East, by the way) heading into this week's game at Pittsburgh.

"Every game gets harder now," said fullback Brian Leonard, who suffered through the pain of a 1-11 disaster in 2002. "All the games are hard, but when you're unbeaten and keep winning, the games get even harder."

This week it's a 6-1 Pitt team. Down the road, No. 6 Louisville and No. 4 West Virginia await. It's a whole new world for Rutgers.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, whose name is probably popping up around Miami even more after the Hurricanes' big brawl last week, looks at Pitt and says, "It's a huge challenge. It would be a big challenge to face Pitt's offense right now defensively had we played a conventional offense the week before. It just makes it a bigger challenge."

The Knights stuffed Navy's vaunted triple option last week and now gets ready for Tyler Palko and his gang.

Notes and Quotes
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Greg Schiano stood behind beleaguered quarterback Mike Teel, and Teel came through with a three-touchdown-pass performance in the 34-0 rout of Navy last week. RB Ray Rice's streak of 100-yard games ended at seven straight, but you won't hear Schiano complaining about a week that featured real QB play.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Last week, Rutgers faced Navy's vaunted triple option and ate it up, handing the Mids their first shutout and lowest yardage count in four years. "This group of players really buys into 'doing my one-11th' and the team defense," Schiano says. Rutgers is No. 1 in the land in scoring defense, No. 2 in total defense, No. 4 in pass efficiency defense, No. 10 in rushing defense and No. 20 in passing defense.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I tell the young guys all the time, 'Don't take this for granted.' But I also remind them not to get too caught up in it either." -- Tight end Clark Harris on Rutgers' 6-0 start.

Strategy and Personnel
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Rutgers at Pittsburgh, Nov. 21 -- Pitt isn't the iron of the Big East. Not even close. But the Panthers are 6-1 and off to the program's best start since Dan Marino. This is a huge game for both of these teams as they jockey for Big East position behind West Virginia and Louisville -- with the winner of this week's game thinking upsets over both.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Mike Teel -- The Scarlet Knights came into last week's game near the bottom of the nation's passing stats and, while Teel's still no Johnny Unitas, Rutgers moved up to No. 102 in passing efficiency and No. 82 in passing offense. Teel threw three touchdown passes last week, earning Big East weekly honor roll mention.

DE Rameel Meekins -- The Walter Camp Football Foundation's national defensive player of the week (also getting the Big East nod) made 12 tackles, including two sacks, and forced three fumbles last week.

RB Ray Rice -- The only reason he didn't break the school record with an eighth consecutive 100-yard game was his coach, keeping an eye on the future, pulled him in a blowout. Typical Rice, who left with 93 yards -- he was behind Greg Schiano's decision all the way. Rice is fourth in the nation in rushing, sixth in all-purpose yards.

FB Brian Leonard -- He tied West Virginia's Khori Ivy's Big East record of at least one reception in 40 consecutive games and is just two catches shy of Tres Moses' Rutgers record for catches.

P Joe Radigan -- He is third in the nation in punting, with a 46.22-yard average.

ROSTER REPORT: WR Shawn Tucker, who broke his right ankle Sept. 23, had his cast removed and was walking with a boot. He's talking about playing Nov. 25, but his coach is hoping for Nov. 9.

DE Chenry Lewis missed last week's game with an ankle injury but is listed on this week's depth chart.

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