Rutgers "gunnin'" for WVU? Not even close

The last time Rutgers beat West Virginia was 1994, and there is plenty at stake Saturday when the Mountaineers travel to Piscataway, N.J., for a noon kickoff. But the Scarlet Knights say they do not care about ending a 14-year winless streak in the series. Most of the players say they are unaware of how mismatched the programs were until recently.

The losses mounted every way possible. Triple overtime with the Big East title on the line, and 80-7 when West Virginia was a bad team.

There was the double overtime loss in 2000, and the 31-3 drubbing at a rainy Rutgers Stadium in 2007.

When Rutgers last beat West Virginia, coach Greg Schiano was an assistant at Penn State, starting linebacker Steve Beauharnais was 4-years-old and the old renovation of Rutgers Stadium was two games old.

So, with a berth in the Meineke Car Care Bowl likely at stake, not to mention more than a decade of losing to the Mountaineers as a backdrop, the Scarlet Knights …couldn't care any less.

The idea of ending a 14-game losing streak to West Virginia was met with about as much excitement as a homecoming against Texas Southern.

"Personally, I wasn't involved in any of it,'' Rutgers red-shirt sophomore running back Joe Martinek said. "It's a whole new team, a whole new season, different things on the line. Every single situation is different.''

About the closest any of the Scarlet Knights came to acknowledging the significance of the game was Beauharnais, although he said he knew very little about the history between the programs.

"As much as they tell me during the whole week, as much as Ryan D'Imperio and Damaso (Munoz) and (Devin) McCourty tell me the whole week, I still don't understand it,'' Beauharnais said. "They understand it, and we, hopefully, during the game, will understand how big it is to beat them, and the rivalry right now.''

So, why isn't this more of an issue?

"It won't help us,'' said McCourty, a fifth-year senior.

Of course, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart believes otherwise.

"Believe me, Rutgers is better, they're on a roll and they're gunnin' for the Mountaineers,'' Stewart said.

Schiano's first season at Rutgers was 2001, and since then West Virginia shared the league title three times ('03, '04, '07) and won it outright once ('05). But Schiano is not about to speak to his team about the importance of breaking through against the Mountaineers.

"I really don't get into that, to be frank with you,'' Schiano said. "I think that's a mistake. …This year is totally different; 2009 is its own entity. Would I be naive to think people aren't going to talk about it? Absolutely, but I don't think Steven Beauharnais had any idea what the Rutgers-West Virginia series was before he got here.

"He's going to be playing a role in that game Saturday, so I don't put a lot of stock in that.''

But the gap between the programs closed significantly, although it didn't have much room to widen.

Schiano's first meeting with the Mountaineers was the 80-7 loss in 2001, when West Virginia finished 3-8. By Schiano's fourth year Rutgers got markedly closer, falling 35-30.

Unexpectedly, though, the Scarlet Knights have kept the games closer on the road than at home. While the last three games in Morgantown, W.V., were each decided by seven points or less, Rutgers has been outscored 58-17 in the last two meetings at home.

Scarlet Report Top Stories