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2007 Big East Football Prospectus Part 5: Rutgers

Editor’s Note: This is part five of an eight part series giving analysis of each of the eight teams in the Big East Football Conference, proceeding alphabetically, but ending with Syracuse. A new team will be released each weekday for the next eight days. Feel free to use the comment section to supplement the facts and analysis presented, however my opinions will stand. Enjoy and I hope you are looking forward to the new Big East football season as much as I am. Part four can be found here.
Preview – Greg Schiano takes the helm once again for Rutgers after the most successful season in school history, achieving an 11-2 record overall, including wins over (at the time) undefeated Louisville in route to a Big East Championship. This, of course, did not happen, but that really did not damper the good vibes coming out of Piscataway last season. QB Mike Teal (164/296, 2135yds, 12 TD, 13 INT, sacked 7 times) and RB Ray Rice (1794yds on 335att, 5.4avg, 20 TD) return to anchor this team. Rice, coming off of a school record rushing season, looks to lead the offense again on the ground. Teal also seems even sharper this year, as he had a spring game where he showed even more command of the offense Rutgers employs. Their wide receiver core looks fast and sharp, but graduating All Big East tight end Clark Harris will not help. Rutgers has one of the best offensive lines in the nation and will look to help Rice continue his success. Greg Schiano’s defense is also just as ferocious with a solid secondary and a solid defensive front (once all the players return healthy, and they will be by the start of the season). The Knights will have a big hole to fill in graduating fullback and captain Brian Leonard, the emotional leader of the ball club. I’ll even throw a little love to the kicker Jeremy Ito, who nailed a clutch field goal in the final seconds of the game against Louisville to give them the win last year in Piscataway. Nothing says “I own you” like pointing right at the sky cam after a big kick.

Key Returning Players – RB Ray Rice, QB Mike Teel, K Jeremy Ito

Key Losses – FB Brian Leonard, CB Derrick Roberson, TE Clark Harris

My Thoughts – This team will be solid and will again finish in the top half of the Big East. Will they be as dominating as they were last year? Probably not. Coach Schiano will have they ready for the rigors of a Big East schedule however (because their non-conference schedule sure is not rigorous at all). They have to have something to cheer about in NJ though right? It is hard enough for The Sopranos to be ending for them. They might have to settle for an 8-4 season and a nice meal down at the Grease Trucks.

Will We Beat Them? – Rutgers will be down but not out. To be on the safe side I’ll just say we will lose this one at home. However, I think this game will be close as Rutgers is our Homecoming game this year, and will probably boast the loudest crowd of the season in the Dome. There is a potential for an upset, and there would be nothing I would like better than to see us not lose to Rutgers again. Rutgers has been a personal torture for me as I witnessed us lose at both Rutgers in 2004, and at home in 2005, live. I would love to see us send Rutgers with a surprise loss. The likelihood of the “upset” is as great at this game as any this season.

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