Rutgers' defense and special teams showed they can carry the Scarlet Knights when running back Ray Rice and the rest of the offense can't.
With the nation's second-leading rusher held in check by Connecticut (3-5), the No. 15 Scarlet Knights (8-0) held off the Huskies 24-13 on Sunday night to remain one of the nation's six undefeated teams.
Rice scored on a 5-yard run on the first drive of the game, Manny Collins returned a fumble 11 yards for a score and Quintero Frierson scored on a blocked punt in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Rutgers can now turn its attention to its showdown with No. 5 Louisville a week from Thursday. The Cardinals (7-0) will face No. 3 West Virginia this Thursday night.
After Rutgers took a 17-0 halftime lead, freshman Donald Brown scored on touchdown runs of 65 and 8 yards for UConn. Playing in place of regular starter Terry Caulley, Brown finished with 199 yards in his first college start, by far the most yards this season against Rutgers, which had been allowing 78 yards per game.
Rutgers needed the contributions from its defense and special teams because its offense was largely nonexistent in the second half. The Scarlet Knights managed one first down in the third quarter and gained 75 yards in the final 30 minutes.
Rice came into the game averaging 161 yards, second behind Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois. But Rice finished with 79 yards on 22 carries, his lowest total of the season.
Defensive end Jamaal Westerman was instrumental in two of Rutgers' scores, forcing the fumble by Huskies quarterback D.J. Hernandez that Collins returned for a touchdown in the second quarter and blocking Chris Pavasaris' punt that led to Frierson's touchdown.
It was the second time this season Rutgers has scored touchdowns via offense, defense and special teams in the same game. The first came against Illinois on Sept. 9.
UConn was plagued by mistakes. A long kickoff return by Larry Taylor to the Rutgers 31 in the first half was erased by a holding penalty, and a fumble by Hernandez near the end of the half stopped a drive that had reached the Rutgers 43.
Hernandez, the more mobile of UConn's two alternating quarterbacks, started in place of Matt Bonislawski but couldn't escape Rutgers' swarming defense. In the second quarter he was flushed out of the pocket and appeared to have daylight around right end, but was dragged down from behind by Westerman.
The ball squirted free and Collins scooped it up and was half-dragged into the end zone by defensive tackle Ramel Meekins with a UConn player on his back.
That gave Rutgers a 14-0 lead that Jeremy Ito extended to 17-0 with a 51-yard field goal, his second-longest of the season behind his 53-yarder against South Florida on Sept. 29. It was the senior's 46th field goal at Rutgers and tied the school record set by Kennan Startzell in 1979.
Rutgers wasted no time in putting the visitors in a 7-0 hole. Mike Teel (11-for-24, 123 yards, one interception) completed four consecutive passes on the opening drive before Rice's 5-yard scamper around left end.