Seeing long-time coach Greg Schiano depart to the NFL was a difficult sight for Rutgers fans, especially those who had witnessed the New Jersey native build the program from irrelevancy to national recognition.
It is ironic, then, that Schiano's departure coincides with a year in which his hard work may appear to finally pay off in their first Big East championship. In what looks to be the strongest team since 2006's historic season, first-year head coach Kyle Flood will inherit a team returning 15 starters from last season's surprising 9-4 campaign. Eight to a defense which was one of, if not the best, in the conference.
Although questions still remain on offense, particularly in the QB race, West Virginia's departure has posited the Scarlet Knights as a potential contender for the Big East title in 2012. If Flood hopes to achieve in his first year what Schiano could never accomplish in his long tenure and take home the conference crown, their performance in these five pivotal games will be crucial.