Rutgers has been the most surprising team in the Big East so far this season. The No. 15 Scarlet Knights have been very good on both sides of the ball and are now a legitimate BCS threat as they continue to climb the polls.
This Rutgers team is the leader in what is a three-horse race in the Big East with No. 16 Louisville and No. 21 Cincinnati falling in line right behind the Scarlet Knights.
The departure of Greg Schiano was expected to be a big loss for the Scarlet Knights, dropping them back into the bottom of the Big East. The opposite has happened as the Knights are pushing for a major BCS bowl at season's end.
The Scarlet Knights are playing stingy, nasty defense this season. The Knights are very strong against the run, standing as the No. 2 rushing defense in the country. The Scarlet Knights are also the No. 3 scoring defense and No. 18 total defense in the country.
The Scarlet Knights have not been extremely efficient at stopping the pass, but the highest points total scored against them this season was Arkansas’ 26 points. The next highest points total was 15 by Syracuse.
This Rutgers defense can continue to get better and should finish as a top unit in the country this season. Defense wins championships and Rutgers is planning to ride its defense to a Big East title and BCS berth in January.
Gary Nova has been a baller for the Rutgers offense this season. Nova has completed 60.9 percent of his passes and has 11 touchdowns to his name so far this fall.
Nova has also thrown for 1,271 yards this season and has only been sacked three times. His best game came against Arkansas where he completed 71.4 of his passes and tossed five touchdowns.
Gary Nova has not thrown an interception since a week two win against Howard. There is a lot of potential left to be harnessed by the sophomore signal-caller, but at the midpoint of the season Nova has been one of the best in the game, leading his team to a 6-0 record.
Brandon Coleman and Tim Wright have formed a dangerous receiving tandem for Rutgers this fall. Wright has 239 receiving yards on 21 catches and has caught multiple passes in five of six games this season.
Coleman is the impressive playmaker, snagging 24 receptions for 382 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6’6”, 220-pound receiver has been very effective in the last three weeks, catching six passes in each of the last three contests. Most recently, Coleman had 104 yards against Syracuse.
Mark Harrison has also been involved in the offense often, catching 22 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Harrison is also lengthy, standing at 6’3”.
These receivers have been a big help developing Nova and could help vault this Rutgers team into the BCS in 2012.
Winning the turnover battle is crucial to winning consistently in college football. Rutgers got the memo as they are currently ranked the No. 2 team in the country in turnover margin.
The Scarlet Knights are earning 2.17 more turnovers a game than they are giving up. That is a huge stat line to own.
This Rutgers team has a tough road ahead with Cincinnati and Louisville looking to end the magic in New Jersey and win the Big East. If Rutgers can play stingy defense and continue to win the turnover battle, they will bust into the bowl season undefeated.
Oftentimes, teams win games they shouldn’t with special teams. This Rutgers team is no different.
The Scarlet Knights currently rank No. 1 in kickoff returns this season, averaging 38 yards per return.
Rutgers is using a mix of returners to get the job done. Jeremy Deering and Mason Robinson are the return men that are giving Rutgers excellent field position on returnable kicks.
There are far fewer kick returns this season with the kickoff point moved up to the 35-yard line this fall, but Rutgers is taking advantage of returns when they can. The return game is giving the Scarlet Knights great field position in games, aiding the Rutgers offense.
Look for a special teams play to be a deciding factor in a crucial matchup as the season grinds to a close in the next few months.