10 Things I Learned - International Bowl

Rutgers (8-5) is the national champion of Canadian NCAA football. The Scarlet Knights routed Ball State (7-6) by a final score of 52-30 in the International Bowl at Rogers Centre in Toronto Jan. 5. Even at the end of the season, teams are giving an education to fans. So following are 10 Things I Learned at the International Bowl.

1. Ray Rice is good.
It turns out this is the last time I'll be able to write this in analysis of a Rutgers game. RU's star tailback -- who declared for the National Football League draft on Jan. 8 -- did not disappoint in his final collegiate performance, breaking his own school record for yards rushing in a game with 280. Rice also set a new school and Big East mark with 2,012 yards in a season, becoming the 13th player in history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a season. The wunderkind also set a new Rutgers record for consecutive 100-yard games with eight, breaking the previous mark he shared with JJ Jennings. Leaving for the NFL means Rice won't mount an assault on the all-time Big East and NCAA rushing records, but he left an indelible mark at Rutgers.

2. Rutgers fans continue to travel well.
Official estimates placed RU's contingent at around 8,000 fans. But to the naked eye it appeared Rutgers fans numbered in the 12,000-plus range, as the entire sideline behind the Rutgers bend was bathed in Scarlet. Head coach Greg Schiano expressed appreciation for the developing travel history of Rutgers fans. Rice and former Rutgers star Brian Leonard also mentioned how they are part of a "Rutgers family."

3. The International Bowl needs to promote itself locally.
Nary a Torontonian knew what was going on Jan. 5, and that's not great for ticket sales. International Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman, also the executive director for the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, admitted that his organization needed to do a better job of promotion in Canada. The bowl is on the verge of partnering with a title sponsor, which should help marketing in the future.

4. The seniors will be missed.
The group of 20 seniors came to Rutgers when it was a dead end program, where committing just about guaranteed losing. They went to three straight bowl games, winning two, and paved the way for players like Anthony Davis, Kenny Britt and Mason Robinson to commit to Rutgers. Perhaps the biggest hole left will be by senior tackles Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah, who were both invited to next month's NFL combine in Indianapolis. There's another senior who made a huge impact on Rutgers.

5. Jeremy Ito still has it.
RU's true senior place-kicker tied his career long field goal with a 53-yarder in the second quarter against Ball State. He was perfect on all 51 of his PATs this season and missed just two in his career. Ito, Rutgers' and the Big East's all-time leading scorer with 400 points, connected on 72.1 percent of his career field goal attempts. While Ito put up subpar punting numbers, he showed his commitment this season by handling place-kicking, kickoff and punting duties. He leaves big shoes for San San Te to fill.

6. Ball State players didn't match their talk with play on the field.
According to several sources -- including Schiano -- BSU players were talking trash to Rutgers players the entire week of the International Bowl. They continued that smack talk in pre-game warmups and through the early part of the contest. But Rutgers matched BSU's smack talk with a smackdown. Eddie Burk, one of the more vocal Ball State players, got his comeuppance when Rice trucked him on a stiffarm during a 90-yard TD run.

7. Ron Girault can hit.
Of course, we all knew this already. The true senior co-captain, who finished the game with six tackles, delivered one of the best hits of the game when he planted Ball State's Darius Hill after a catch on the Cardinals' 26-yard line late in the third quarter. The hit drew a loud roar from the Rutgers crowd.

8. RU's passing game has deadly potential.
Ball State's defense was behind Rutgers' receivers all day. Receivers Kenny Britt, Tiquan Underwood and Tim Brown combined for three touchdown catches, and quarterback Mike Teel threw for 303 yards and three TDs to one interception. For the second straight year, Brown scored the first touchdown of the bowl game.

9. Defensive stats can be deceiving.
Rutgers allowed 460 yards of total offense to Ball State in the International Bowl and 30 points. The young defense could use a little work. However, that statistic needs to be tempered with the fact that the game was well in hand before BSU crossed the goal line. RU held Ball State to 151 yards of offense in the first half and allowed nearly 200 yards in the fourth quarter. Rutgers harassed Ball State quarterback Nate Davis all day.

10. The game was over when . . .
Rice busted loose on a 90-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Rutgers faced a third and 2 on its own 10-yard line when Rice followed a couple of key blocks and found daylight down the near sideline. He stiffarmed Eddie Burk at the Ball State 35 and barely made it into the end zone. Ball State head coach Brady Hoke said that run -- which made the score 31-9 in favor of Rutgers -- demoralized his team.


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