10 Things We Learned...Cincy-RU

For the second straight year, Rutgers started the football season with a loss while the opponent got off to a hot start at the Birthplace of College Football. Cincinnati (1-0, 1-0 Big East) dominated the Scarlet Knights (0-1, 0-1), 47-15, in a key Big East game to open the season in front of more than 55,000 fans.

There was plenty of bad news, but some good news as well -- including the beginning of Tom Savage's and Mohamed Sanu's careers. Let's take a look at 10 Things We Learned Last Week.

1. Rutgers is behind the 8-ball in the Big East race.
RU's next Big East game isn't until Oct. 16, but the Scarlet Knights will be looking up at the rest of the conference from the bottom until then. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is in the driver's seat and has sole possession of first place for nearly a month and at least a share until Oct. 15 when it travels to Tampa to face South Florida. The season's not over, however, as the last three Big East champions have had at least one loss in conference play.

2. The Domenic Natale era appears to be over as the Tom Savage era seems to begin.
Natale, a fifth-year senior, was 8-for-12 with 108 yards and three interceptions to zero TDs. He was replaced at the half by Savage. The true freshman from Springfield, Pa., failed to lead a sustained drive until early in the fourth quarter when he capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a seven-yard bullet to receiver Shamar Graves. The Knights converted three fourth-down situations on the drive, and Savage connected with fellow true freshman Mohamed Sanu on the two-point conversion. Savage finished 15-of-23 with 135 yards and one TD to zero interceptions.

3. There is no "D" in Rutgers.
The Bearcats scored on five of their six first-half possessions to jump out to a 24-point lead at the break, scoring 24 unanswered points in the second stanza. Pike was 20-for-25 for 286 yards, two touchdowns and one interception; Gilyard had 78 receiving yards and a TD, and UC racked up a total of 333 yards in the first half. The middle of the field was wide open at times, Rutgers hardly brought down a player on the first contact, and UC finished the game with 564 total yards (396 passing). Cincinnati did not attempt its first punt until midway through the fourth quarter.

4. UC head coach Brian Kelly can coach.
Kelly is the two-time defending Big East coach of the year, and he showed why in the opener at Rutgers Stadium. His team was prepared and flying from the outset. UC finished with an astounding 564-293 advantage in yards gained.

5. The Jabu Lovelace package continues to be ineffective.
RU continues to shoehorn the fifth-year senior quarterback into the lineup, but opposing defenses are no longer fooled by the change of pace. Lovelace ran three times for minus 2 yards and was 0-for-2 passing versus Cincinnati on Monday and did not see any action in the second half.

6. Mohamed Sanu was one of the few bright spots for RU against UC.
The true freshman got the starting nod at wide receiver opposite Tim Brown and showed his potential against Cincinnati. The South Brunswick product caught 10 passes for 101 yards. Granted, most of his production came after the rout was on, but the Savage-to-Sanu connection shows promise.

7. Mardy Gilyard is the real deal. And Tony Pike's not bad either.
We knew coming into the game that Gilyard was the best receiver in the Big East. Any remaining doubts about his capabilities were removed as he tallied 89 yards receiving on eight receptions, one TD and 59 return yards. Pike was 27-for-34 with 362 yards, one TD and one pick in just three quarters of work.

8. Cincinnati has the advantage on Rutgers lately.
The Bearcats have won four straight against the Scarlet Knights dating back to the 2006 game when Cincinnati smacked around a 9-0 top 10 Rutgers team by a 30-11 count. In the past four seasons, UC has outscored RU 118-59.

9. The first offensive drive was the high point for Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights pounded a 20-play, 78-yard, 10:44 drive to answer Cincinnati's opening drive and tie the score at 7-7 late in the first quarter. The drive included 15 rushes for 51 yards and was capped by a four-yard Joe Martinek touchdown run. RU seemed to abandon the power game and managed minus 1 yard rushing the remainder of the game (thanks in part to four UC sacks for 42 yards).

10. The game was over when . . .
Tony Pead took a pass from Pike, juked a defender and scampered into the end zone with 54 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the Bearcats a 31-7 lead. That put a dagger into the heart of the Scarlet Knights and set UC up for the Big East lead. The second half was more of the same until Cincinnati called off the dogs in the fourth quarter.


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