Four things Needed for RU to Win the Big East

Rutgers football was picked to finish fourth in the Big East Conference this season in the preseason poll. Since joining the conference in 1991, the Scarlet Knights have finished no higher than a tie for second place. Is this the year they finally break through, win the Big East and qualify for a Bowl Championship Series game? There's a chance, and here are Five Ways Rutgers can Win the Big East.

1. Own "R" House. After seven straight wins at Rutgers Stadium and a 10-2 home mark from 2005-06, last year RU tripped up its campaign with consecutive home losses to Maryland and Cincinnati. What was shaping up to be a potential run at the Big East title lost momentum and never recovered. The Scarlet Knights need to take care of business early in two tough non-conference matchups with Fresno State and North Carolina. If they win both of those, the Knights should be 4-0 heading into a showdown with West Virginia in Morgantown on Oct. 4. Every home game is sold out this year, and RU needs to capitalize on loud, packed houses.

2. Win on the road. RU has stumbled away from home the past couple of years. Cincinnati thumped an overconfident Rutgers squad in Ohio in 2006, WVU ended the Scarlet Knights' shot at a BCS game the same year, and Connecticut manhandled RU in Storrs last season. Rutgers' three biggest conference games come on the road this season. The Scarlet Knights start the conference slate with the Oct. 4 game against West Virginia in Morgantown – a place where RU has never won. RU travels to Pittsburgh Oct. 25, and Nov. 15 features a trip to Raymond James Stadium to play South Florida. Those three games form the make-or-break portion of the season for RU, and the Scarlet Knights need to win at least two to have a shot at the conference title.

3. Pass, pass, pass. It's a formula that won the University of Florida many games under head coach Steve Spurrier for more than a decade. While the game has changed since he left the Swamp a half decade ago, a deadly passing game is key to winning ball games. RU needs to hit through the air to keep opposing defenses on their heels, which will open the running game. The Scarlet Knights possess one of the most talented receiving corps in the nation, and quarterback Mike Teel racked up a school-record 3,147 yards passing last year. Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt form a deadly duo in the receiving game and will help the Knights stretch the field.

4. Have offensive line continuity. Rutgers lost three senior starters from last year's team, but the Scarlet Knights still have experience in the front five Anthony Davis needs to protect Mike Teel's back, and Ryan Blaszcyk is back as the center. Kevin Haslam, Caleb Ruch, Mo Lange and Art Forst add experience to the front unit, which needs to own the trenches to give Rutgers a chance at the 10-win mark that will most likely be the minimum

Scarlet Report Top Stories