Chazz Anderson ran eight yards for a touchdown on a quarterback draw, and Cincinnati overcame an afternoon of penalties and precise punts to beat Rutgers 13-10 on Saturday, extending the Scarlet Knights' stunning decline.
Anderson, making his second straight start after injuries wiped out Cincinnati's top quarterbacks, did just enough to help the Bearcats (5-1, 1-0) win their Big East opener.
It was ragged all around.
The Bearcats were 0-for-11 on third downs and piled up 115 yards on 12 penalties overall, three of them for unsportsmanlike conduct. The defense and punter Kevin Huber made the 13 points stand up.
Huber pinned the Scarlet Knights (1-5, 0-2) at the 12-yard line or closer on six of his nine kicks, making it difficult for a struggling offense to get any traction.
"He's a weapon out there for us defensively," said defensive end Connor Barwin, who had two sacks and broke up a pass. "They have to go 98 yards to score (on one possession). That's hard to do. It all works together. That's what you've got to do to win games."
Rutgers hasn't figured out a formula.
The Scarlet Knights are off to their worst start since 2002, when they went 1-11. They were an overnight success story in 2006, when they won their first nine games - a streak that ended in Cincinnati - and finished 11-2. They've been going in reverse, finishing 8-5 last season and struggling this year with an unproductive offense.
"It's frustrating and hard and whatever else you can say," said quarterback Mike Teel, who was 19-of-35 for 175 yards with three sacks.
Rutgers' touchdown came on a trick play early in the second half. Teel handed off to running back Kordell Young, who ran toward the right sideline and threw a 17-yard pass to uncovered fullback Jack Corcoran.
Coach Greg Schiano didn't consider replacing Teel after the first half, when Rutgers managed only two first downs on seven possessions and 63 yards overall.
"We were getting manhandled up front," Schiano said. "Mike doesn't have anything to do with that. They took it to our offense. I think Mike's playing smart, not turning over the football. Sometimes you don't know, you don't throw, and that's what Mike's doing, I believe."
Rutgers had a chance to pull it out at the end, taking over at its 12-yard line after a punt. Kenny Britt was closely covered and let a pass slip out of his hands on a fourth-down play at the Rutgers 30-yard line, ending it.
The Bearcats were forced to use two redshirt freshmen at quarterback after senior Dustin Grutza and junior Tony Pike got hurt. Anderson edged out Zach Collaros for the job, and has led Cincinnati to a pair of wins. He went 21-of-29 for 239 yards against the Scarlet Knights.
He also made some freshman mistakes. He held the ball too long and took back-to-back sacks in the second quarter, pushing Cincinnati out of field goal range. He was indecisive at times, unsure whether to run or wait for a receiver to get open.
"Chazz had a high completion percentage," coach Brian Kelly said. "He took care of the football. He played clean from that standpoint. The story offensively was the penalties. We really shot ourselves in the foot."
The Scarlet Knights set a school scoring record last season behind Teel, who threw a Rutgers-record 20 touchdown passes. The senior quarterback has struggled this season without running back Ray Rice, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
Rutgers came into the game averaging only 19 points, worst in the Big East. On one telling play Saturday, Teel threw too far to the side of Tim Brown, who had beaten the secondary and was five yards beyond the nearest defender.
Young, who missed the last four games with a sore knee, ran 22 times for 78 yards. Rutgers finished with 254 yards overall.