Football Bowl Subdivision
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
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      === No. 22 Rutgers hits road for Big East brawl with Cincinnati ===
 
 Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - The Big East leading Rutgers Scarlet Knights
 will be in for a tough road test this weekend with a matchup against the
 talented Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium.
 
 Rutgers has not played in a Big East contest since a 35-10 win at Temple on
 Oct. 20. That win pushed the Scarlet Knights to 4-0 in Big East play and with
 Louisville's loss to Syracuse this past weekend, the Scarlet Knights are in
 sole possession of first place in the conference. In the time away from Big
 East action Rutgers did suffer its first loss of the year (35-23 vs Kent
 State) but rebounded with a 28-7 victory over Army last weekend.
 
 Although his Scarlet Knights are at the top of the conference right now, head
 coach Kyle Flood preached how important this game will be.
 
 "When you are playing an opponent like we are this week, a team that has been
 able to call themselves the Big East champions three of the last four years
 they have your attention right away," Flood said. "There is certainly nothing
 else on our mind this week."
 
 Cincinnati is still very much in the running for the Big East crown with a
 record of 3-1 against league foes this season. Cincinnati won its second
 straight game in league play and overall this past weekend with an easy 34-10
 road win over Temple. The win pushed Cincinnati to 7-2 overall. This season
 Cincinnati has been invincible at home with a perfect 5-0 mark at Nippert
 Stadium.
 
 The all-time series between these squads is split with each team earning eight
 wins along with a tie in the previous 17 meetings. Cincinnati has had the
 advantage since joining the Big East in 2005 with a 5-2 mark against the
 Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has not won a road game in the series since 1987.
 
 Offense has not been a strength for Rutgers this season. The Scarlet Knights
 are ranked sixth in the Big East in total offense (347.6 ypg). The two teams
 Rutgers is ahead of in the category are Temple and Connecticut, who are a
 combined 3-8 in league play this season. The Scarlet Knights also struggle to
 score (25.3 ppg) with the lowest red zone conversion rate in the conference
 (77.8 percent).
 
 The consistent force on offense has been running back Jawan Jamison, who has
 rushed for 953 yards and four touchdowns on 214 carries. That is more than
 twice as many carries as the rest of the team combined. Jamison is one of only
 two running back in the conference to average more than 100 yards rushing per
 contest (105.9) and his rushing total this season ranks second in the
 conference.
 
 There is concern that Jamison may not be able to go in this contest with Flood
 saying that he is '50-50' in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
 
 If Jamison can't go, Savon Huggins (52 carries, 175 yards, 2 TDs) will likely
 get the start. Flood also said that B.J. James would get some carries if
 Jamison sits out.
 
 Stability in the passing game has been a less attainable goal. Although there
 has been no question as to who the starter is, with Gary Nova accounting for
 264 of the team's 266 total pass attempts, production has been an issue. Nova
 has completed a healthy 61.4 percent of his passes and has 18 touchdown passes
 but his yardage total (1,939) is the third worst among quarterbacks in the Big
 East with at least 150 pass attempts. Nova has also shown a tendency to turn
 the ball over in recent weeks with eight of his 10 interceptions coming in the
 past three games. Six of those came in a loss to Kent State.
 
 Last weekend Brandon Coleman showed just how dangerous he can be in the
 passing game with two touchdown catches. The 6-6 sophomore leads the team in
 receptions (34), yards (508) and touchdowns (8). Mark Harrison (30 receptions,
 297 yards, 4 TDs) has also picked up a number of catches but little in terms
 of yardage.
 
 All of the Scarlet Knights' offensive deficiencies have been swept away thanks
 to Rutgers' stellar defense. The unit is not just one of the best in the Big
 East but in the nation overall. Rutgers ranks fifth nationally in scoring
 defense (13.4 ppg) and 14th in total yards (309.4 ypg).
 
 Leading the way is a player certainly destined to be a nominee for Big East
 Defensive Player of the Year, Khaseem Greene. The senior linebacker has
 stuffed the stat sheet with a team-leading 96 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a pair of
 interceptions and six forced fumbles.
 
 Matching up with Rutgers' punishing defense is the explosive offense of
 Cincinnati. The Bearcats are the Big East leaders in points per game (34.2)
 and are nearly at the top in terms of total offensive production (455.6 ypg)
 where they rank second behind Syracuse. Cincinnati's offense can strike
 with rapid speed at any time as the Bearcats have the most plays in the Big
 East of more than 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 yards.
 
 There has been a change at quarterback late in the season though for
 Cincinnati. Brendon Kay made his first career start last week against Temple
 and looked solid, throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns while completing
 13-of-21 pass attempts. Munchie Legaux was the starter to begin the year but
 struggled to complete passes consistently (52.2 completion percentage) and
 in his last three starts, he threw six interceptions.
 
 Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones has not named a starter for this week yet
 but is confident that whoever is put in will play well, and that whoever sits
 will do what he can for the betterment of the team.
 
 "The great thing with this football team; even though they are extremely young
 they take it and go with it," Jones said while also acknowledging that both
 quarterbacks will be fighting hard in practice. "Make no mistake about it;
 they are going to come out here and compete and battle against each other
 too."
 
 Having a running back like George Winn in the backfield has made for a much
 smoother transition between signal callers. Winn is the leading rusher in the
 conference with 980 yards, while also leading in touchdown runs (9).
 
 On defense Cincinnati does not allow teams to sustain drives on a regular
 basis or score at a high rate from in the red zone. The Bearcats are the
 second best team in the conference on third down (36.7 percent), while ranking
 at the same spot in opponents' red zone success rate (75.0 percent). Thanks to
 the strong play in the red zone, Cincinnati is allowing only 18.8 points per
 game.
 
 Greg Blair is the team's leader in tackles with 89. The Bearcats don't possess
 much in terms of a pass rush, which has been even more apparent since Walter
 Stewart (5.0 sacks) was lost for the season in mid-October with a spine
 injury. Dan Giordano and John Williams are the next best options but have just
 2.5 sacks each.
 
 
 
 
 11/14 11:06:28 ET

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