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Rutgers Football: 4 Reasons Rutgers Will Finish Season in Top 25

Nathan GieseSenior Analyst IIJuly 10, 2012

Rutgers Football: 4 Reasons Rutgers Will Finish Season in Top 25

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    Rutgers football has the potential to be the surprise top 25 team in college football in 2012.

    The 2011 Scarlet Knight squad earned a victory in the Pinestripe Bowl against Iowa State. Complete with a defense that ranked 14th overall nationally, Rutgers returns the star players needed to take the nation by storm this season.

    Heading into his first year as coach of Rutgers, Kyle Flood has plenty to look forward to and will end up ranked in the top 25 by the end of the year.

    Here's why:

Jawan Jamison's Emergence

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    One of the biggest talents on the Rutgers offense last season was Freshman running back Jawan Jamison.

    Now a sophomore, Jamison will be expected to produce those same quality numbers he did in his first season in New Jersey. Jamison posted 897 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman.

    Rutgers doesn't have the most talented offense in the nation and have uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into the season. Chas Dodd comes into the season with the most experience but will be battling Gary Nova, both are sophomores, for the starting position.

    With the all of the question marks surrounding the offense, Rutgers will rely heavily upon the legs of Jamison, as well as Savon Huggins, to carry the load...literally.

    Jamison's production will be a huge asset or sorely missed for the Scarlet Knights' offense. It's up to him to keep the ball in their possession and eat up huge chunks of yardage in the process.

Top Flight Defense

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    Ranked 14th in the nation last season, Rutgers is loaded with defensive talent.

    Most of that talent resides in the linebacking position. Headlining this position is Khasheem Greene, who earned himself Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big East in 2011, compiling 141 total tackles and 74 solo tackles.

    Along with Greene is fellow senior linebacker Steve Beauharnais, who led the defense with five sacks in 2011. Rounding out the linebackers is Jamal Merrell. Combined, these three will be a force and proved so as they held opposing passers to 172.3 yards per game last season.

    Also, the Knights welcome in highly touted recruit, defensive lineman Darius Hamilton. Hamilton rated 11th on Rivals.com's overall recruiting list. Considering the fact that he is the son of former NFL stud Keith Hamilton, Darius could have a pretty bright future in college.

    Rutger's secondary also sports three veteran ball hawks in cornerbacks Brandon Jones and Logan Ryan, along with safety Duron Harmon.

    Harmon led the team with five interceptions in 2011 and will be expected to help contain the best receivers in the Big East once again this season.

    Overall, the defense has the makings for a top-tier defense, once again, in the 2012 season. As goes the defense, so goes Rutgers. They have the capabilities of being great and should show so in 2012.

Weak Big East Conference

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    Big East football has never been what the SEC is today. And now with West Virginia, the best program in the conference, departed,  the Big East is lacking in the power department.

    West Virginia was the power team in the Big East for years. Now, they reside in the Big 12. Unfortunately, the Big East has lost their top team, and the schools they have added in the realignment process won't be coming over for a few years. This makes the conference appear to be weaker than it normally would.

    Luckily for Rutgers, this opens up the door to take charge in the Big East this season.

    While quarterback Tedd Bridgewater and Louisville are the heavy favorite this season with B.J. Daniels and South Florida aren't far behind, Rutgers is in prime position to control the Big East themselves.

    For USF, aside from battling Louisville and Rutgers, they also have to deal with powerhouse Florida State in the first part of the season. Florida State is loaded and could easily dominate the Bulls in their contest, putting USF in a hole early.

    Louisville does not possess the same problem as they have no current top 25 schools on their schedule.

    Although Louisville looks poised to take the conference, Rutgers should be right behind them all season long. There won't be many other teams that have a logical chance at the Big East crown.

    Louisville, USF and Rutgers have the best chance at taking it home, leaving a essential triple threat match for the Big East Championship.

Their Schedule Favors It

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    One of the biggest things that will help Rutgers propel into the top 25 by the end of the season is their favorable schedule.

    Besides a huge meeting with Arkansas on September 22nd, their non-conference schedule features games at Tulane, and home against Howard, Kent State and Army. Needless to say, aside from Arkansas, the non-conference shouldn't be a problem for the Scarlet Knights.

    Of course, the Scarlet Knights will have to go through South Florida the week before Arkansas, and end their season with a huge home game against Louisville. The November 29 collision with Louisville could possibly have high implications for the Big East championship race.

    With those three games, the rest of Rutgers' schedule make them more than capable of not only coming away with a top 25 ranking by the end of the season, but a Big East title and possible BCS bowl as well.

    Their schedule makes them a huge threat in the Big East and Rutgers is ready to take advantage of that fact.

    Overall, Rutgers is ready for a breakout season and should conclude it by being a top ranked team by the end of it.

    Their defense is stellar, their running game is impeccable and their schedule opens the door for an outstanding season.

    New Jersey didn't win the Stanley Cup, lost their NBA to Brooklyn and have no NFL or MLB teams to represent them. Rutgers has the pressure of an entire state upon their shoulders.

    Don't expect those shoulders to give out in 2012.

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