Rutgers has defied expectations under new head coach Kyle Flood and stormed out to a 7-0 start this season, but its toughest matchups of the year are still to come.
The Scarlet Knights currently top the Big East standings with a 4-0 record and are coming off an extremely impressive 35-10 victory over Temple in which they trailed 10-0 after the first quarter, then reeled off 35 unanswered points.
Through tough defense and discipline, Rutgers has fought its way to seven victories, and it will need to do the same going forward.
Here are the games that will give the Scarlet Knights their toughest tests.
November 17, at Cincinnati
Rutgers will host Kent State this coming weekend before getting a week off, then host Army. With two easy home games and a bye on the schedule, the Scarlet Knights will be able to ensure that they are completely ready for this Big East showdown.
The Bearcats, however, are coming off their first loss of the season to Toledo and have to travel to Louisville this Friday. They will also have to take on two more conference opponents in the subsequent weeks.
The Scarlet Knights should be rested while Cincinnati will be weary, and this will give Rutgers’ tough defense an advantage over Munchie Legaux, George Winn and the Bearcats' offense.
In the loss to Toledo, Cincinnati continued to prove it is a slow-starting team. This trend will continue into this game, and the Rutgers defense will not allow the Bearcats to climb back into contention once it jumps out to an early lead.
November 24, at Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has struggled this season and currently sits at 3-4 on the year and 0-3 in the Big East.
In this matchup, it will be the Panthers who will be well-rested after getting a week off before hosting Rutgers.
The key for the Scarlet Knights in this game will be forcing efficient Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri to make mistakes. He has completed 68 percent of his passes and thrown 10 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions.
If the stout Scarlet Knights defense is able to get Sunseri out of his comfort zone, then the team just may take an undefeated record into the last game of the season.
November 29, vs. Louisville
Rutgers’ final game will also be its toughest test of the year.
Louisville is the only other team in the Big East who is undefeated this season. The Cardinals have followed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the conference title appears as if it will be decided during this game.
The Scarlet Knights must continue to get constant pressure and allow Khaseem Greene and the defense to set the tone during this game.
For Rutgers to win this game, and possibly the Big East, it must continue to defend at the level it has throughout this season.