The Syracuse Orange and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will do battle for the final time in Big East play, with the Orange migrating to the ACC next season.
Emotions should be running high, creating a competitive football game for fans to enjoy.
The Scarlet Knights have been one of this year's most surprising teams, ripping off five straight wins behind the nation's No. 5 scoring defense.
Syracuse challenged Southern California and Northwestern in the season's opening weeks, but it's struggled to a 2-3 record thus far.
Let's preview this one from top to bottom.
Where: High Points Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
When: Saturday, October 13 at 12 p.m. ET
Watch: Big East Network
Live Stream: ESPN3
Radio: WTKA 99.5 FM (Syracuse), Rutgers Radio Network
Betting Line: Rutgers (-7), Over/Under 46.5, according to Covers.com
Who Might Not Play for Syracuse (according to USAToday.com)
S Shamarko Thomas—Head—Questionable
TE Ron Thompson—Undisclosed—Questionable
WR Jeremiah Kobena—Upper Body—Out Indefinitely
WR Kyle Foster—Lower Body—Out for Season
DT Ryan Sloan—Lower Body—Out for Season
FB Myles Davis—Lower Body—Out for Season
T Kristofer Curtis—Undisclosed—Out for Season
Who Might Not Play for Rutgers (according to USAToday.com)
RB Paul James—Ankle—Questionable
DL Al Page—Leg—Questionable
DL Isaac Holmes—Wrist—Out for Season
BCS/Top 25 Implications
The Orange are 2-3, but their 1-0 Big East record keeps them in the hunt inside the conference. With the BCS system, that could keep them in the BCS hunt whether they deserve it or not.
Rutgers is a different story. At No. 19 in the nation, the Scarlet Knights are quietly climbing the rankings. Their 2-0 Big East record puts them above undefeated Cincinnati atop the conference.
The Big East receives an automatic BCS bid, so there's definitely something on the line here. Rutgers, Cincinnati and Louisville could be dueling for the top spot until the end, making every game huge until then.
What They're Saying
Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone had excellent things to say about Rutgers in an interview with The Post Standard reporter Nolan Weidner.
Marrone said “We’re playing an opponent that has one of the top defenses in the country. Truly they make things happen. Their rushing defense is second in the country. Their scoring defense is fifth.”
Weidner followed that up with some background information of his own:
Indeed, the Scarlet Knights are allowing a mere 10.8 points per game.
Teams have only rushed for 60.6 yards per game against Rutgers, which allows less than 300 yards of total offense (296.8) per contest. The Scarlet Knights also have 10 interceptions (tied for second in the nation) and sport a healthy plus-nine turnover margin (13 takeaways versus four turnovers).
The Orange enters Saturday’s game averaging 451 yards of total offense and 24 points per game.
Marrone sings more praise for Rutgers in Weidner's report, showing the respect his squad has for the Scarlet Knights on both sides of the ball.
Who to Watch (Syracuse): Ryan Nassib, QB
Nassib has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He gives the Orange the best shot at pulling the upset, depending on if he turns the ball over or not.
As Weidner mentioned earlier, Rutgers is second in the nation in interceptions. Nassib has six this season, which could present a problem against the Scarlet Knights' ball-hawking secondary.
He has Marcus Sales to look for downfield, but possessing the ball will be the most important part here. If he turns it over, this game could get out of hand.
Who to Watch (Rutgers): Khaseem Greene, LB
Greene is a stud, averaging nearly 10 tackles per game so far this season.
He was named the 2011 Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year last season, and he hasn't missed a beat this season. He has 49 tackles, one interception, two sacks and a forced fumble through five games.
Rutgers' stellar defense is paced by Greene's efforts. He will be aggressive for all four quarters, trying to make Nassib's life difficult behind center.
You may not know his name yet, but you will soon enough.
Rutgers' defense is too much for Syracuse here. The Orange are averaging over 300 passing yards per game, but they haven't faced an aggressive unit like this.
Look for Jawan Jamison to run well enough to keep the Rutgers defense rested, allowing the Scarlet Knights to posses the football offensively. He's run for 600-plus yards this season, and he's more than capable of making the difference.
Prediction: Rutgers 31, Syracuse 20
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