Rice finished the season with 2,012 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns, becoming
the 13th player in college football history to run for more than 2,000 yards
in a season. Rice was named the game's most valuable player, but he deflected
praise to Rutgers' offensive linemen.
"I never look at the individual side," said Rice, who passed his MVP award around to his lineman on the awards podium. "Without my offensive line, none of those runs even come out."
Rutgers sacked Ball State quarterback Nate Davis five times in the first half
and six times overall.
"You know, usually there hasn't been a game that we've started out real good, so we've been down before. You just have to keep fighting," said Davis, who finished the game with three touchdown passes. "We just couldn't fight back, so we'll just have to prepare better in the offseason."
The Scarlet Knights, playing their second Mid-American Conference team this year, had all the answers offensively and were only stopped by their own miscues. RU got on top early and never let down to extend its lead to 24-6 at halftime and 38-16 by the end of the third quarter.
Rutgers opened the game with a six-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a 36-yard
touchdown pass from Teel to a wide open Tim Brown in the end zone with 12:29
remaining in the first quarter.
"We had some guys open down the field all day, and we took advantage of that," said Teel, a redshirt junior.
RU was stalled on its second drive when Ball State's Trey Lewis stepped in front of Brown to intercept the ball at the Cardinals 1-yard line.
RU extended its lead to 14-0 when Rice capped a six-play, 70 yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Rice had 33 yards rushing on the drive.
Ball State pulled to within 14-3 when place-kicker Ian McGarvey knocked home a 47-yard field goal with 35 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Senior kicker Jeremy Ito drilled a 53-yard field goal with 11:16 remaining in the second quarter to extend Rutgers' lead to 17-3. That kick tied his career long and was a record for the second-year bowl game.
Ball State got back in the game with a 13-play, 73-yard drive that stalled inside the Rutgers 10-yard line after taking up 4:23 on the clock. The Cardinals had to settle for a 24-yard McGarvey field goal to cut the lead to 17-6.
The Scarlet Knights made it 24-6 with a six-play, 40-yard drive that lasted 2:06 and featured Rice rushing five times for 32 yards. Rice plunged 1 yard into the end zone with 40 seconds remaining.
A long kickoff return set up Ball State for a short drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
RU extended its lead to 31-6 when Rice busted a 90-yard run off left tackle
with 11:13 remaining in the third quarter. That run, the longest of his career
and tied for the longest in Rutgers history, sent him over 200 yards for the
second time this season.
"When you give up big plays, it kills the demeanor of the team," said Ball State head coach Brady Hoke. "That (run) was very demoralizing for the whole team."
Rice was almost caught from behind by a Ball State tackler but stumbled into the end zone after being tripped on the 1-yard line.
"That had to be the longest run of my life," said Rice. "I was taught last year when I got caught from behind in the Pittsburgh game -- don't look back."
Ball State answered with a 78-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard pass from Nate Davis to Dante Love to cut the score to 31-16. But Rutgers put the contest away with an eight-play 80-yard drive that featured five Rice rushes, including a 24-yarder and a 1-yard gain for the score, to go up 38-16 with 2:42 to go in the third quarter.
RU added two more scores met by Ball State TDs, both long pass plays. Teel
connected on a 35-yard pass to Tiquan Underwood and a 47-yard bomb to Kenny Britt as Rutgers topped the 50-point mark for the second time this season.
"All of us expected Mike to have a great game," said Schiano. "He was ripping it in practice, and our receivers were making some great catches in practice. We were counting on that, and they came through."
The announced crowd of 31,455 was nearly 4,000 more spectators than last year's inaugural International Bowl.