10 Things I Learned...RU vs. WVU

Rutgers (5-3, 2-2 Big East) followed its most impressive win in 2007 with its most lopsided loss when West Virginia (7-1, 2-1) pounded the Scarlet Knights 31-3 last Saturday. RU is now on the outside looking in for the Big East race and has lost three games at home this season. With that in mind, following are random thoughts from the West Virginia game . . . or 10 Things I Learned Last Week.

  1. West Virginia owns Rutgers.
    The Mountaineers have now won 13 consecutive games against Rutgers dating back to 1995. Only three times have the Scarlet Knights finished within single digits of the Mountaineers during that stretch.

  2. Ray Rice is still a special running back.
    The true junior amassed 142 yards on 30 carries but failed to reach the end zone for the second consecutive week. He is the first Rutgers rusher to gain 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and now has 1,141 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this year.

  3. Rutgers needs a true punter.
    Where have you gone, Joe Radigan? RU has the worst punting unit in the Big East, averaging just 35 yards per punt this year. Also on special teams, RU turned the ball over on a punt return for the third time in two weeks when a Pat McAfee line drive punt hit Rutgers upback Ramy Nubani and landed in the arms of a West Virginia player. The Mountaineers converted the turnover into a touchdown to go up 14-0.

  4. WVU is still the class of the Big East.
    The Mountaineers know how to win, as evidenced by a run of three consecutive Big East championships from 2003-05. The chips were down for WVU earlier this season when it lost at USF, but Rich Rodriguez's crew has bounced back and now has the inside track to another Big East title and a BCS bid. The Mountaineers are also still in contention for the national title game.

  5. RU's youth is starting to show.
    Many leaders on the team, especially the offensive side of the ball, are underclassmen. In fact, six players (three on each side of the ball) who started against West Virginia were seniors. Rutgers plays like a young team at times -- except on the offensive line, which has the most experience of any unit with three seniors.

  6. Receivers didn't do much to help quarterback Mike Teel.
    Teel sailed a few passes and threw two interceptions, but receivers also dropped a slew of balls against West Virginia. The passing game looked more like early 2006 against WVU than late 2006-early 2007. A contributing factor is probably the dearth of reps Teel had in practice during the week as he was nursing an injured thumb. One thing you can't simulate is timing between a quarterback and his receivers.

  7. Rutgers still can't stop the spread attack.
    In two games against spread offenses this season, RU has allowed 805 yards of total offense. WVU quarterback accounted for 300 total yards, and the Mountaineers gained 254 yards on the ground. Rutgers has allowed an average of 359.25 yards per game in four Big East contests this year and has yielded at least 350 yards in three of those games.

  8. Rutgers should expect to remain unranked the rest of the year.
    Even if the Scarlet Knights win out and finish 9-3, their chances of being ranked at the end of the regular season are remote. UConn looms as the only ranked team left on RU's schedule. That game on Saturday can go a long way toward determining whether Rutgers can bounce back or tank the rest of the way.

  9. All-black uniforms should be retired.
    Personally the black jerseys reminded me of the Terry Shea years, when the Scarlet Knights went with black tops a couple of times. Let's make this color scheme one and done.

  10. The game was over when . . .
    Rutgers place-kicker Jeremy Ito pushed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right early in the third quarter. The Scarlet Knights, down 14-3, put together a 14-play drive that stalled at the West Virginia 24. When Ito missed his attempt, all the wind was taken out of Rutgers' sails.

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