On the heels of their first loss of the season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights return to action this weekend when they host the Army Black Knights. Despite the defeat by a surprising Kent State team, the Knights are still No. 23 in the BCS rankings and chasing down No. 9 Louisville (9-0) for the Big East title.
“These last four games will definitely define this Rutgers football team,” said linebacker Kaseem Greene (as quoted by Tom Luicci of The Star-Ledger on NJ.com). "There's something special about this team that I feel this year that I haven't felt any other year."
While the team has stumbled, it has not fallen. The perfect season may be gone, but Rutgers may be able to do something this season that it has never done before—win the Big East. If that's going to happen, its defense (ranked sixth overall in points against) will need to continue to choke out its opponents in case the offense has another turnover meltdown.
With two weeks to ruminate over his six-interception performance against Kent State, quarterback Gary Nova knows that there is no room for error as the team heads into the final third of the season. “Right now we control our own destiny,” explained Nova (as quoted in The Star-Ledger). “We can’t ask for anything more.”
This week's "Battle of the Knights" may seem to be a slam dunk for a 7-1 Rutgers team against the 2-7 Army squad, but a prolific Army running attack (first overall in the nation) could wear down the Scarlet Knights defense. Averaging over 375 yards per game, the Black Knights are led by option QB Trent Steelman (911 yards, 12 TDs) and RB Raymond Maples (907 yards, two TDs).
"They're athletic up front on the offensive line," head coach Kyle Flood explained during his weekly press conference (per the transcript on ScarletKnights.com). "That is going to be one of the keys to the game for us on defense is staying on our feet."
Despite averaging over 26 points per game, Army's weakness is its passing attack, which ranks 123rd in the nation. For all his talent as a runner, Steelman is just 29-of-61 passing this season for just 494 yards and one touchdown.
While their focus may be on the last three games of the season against Big East rivals (especially the season-ending clash with Louisville), the Scarlet Knights know that this week's opponent cannot be overlooked.
"You can expect to be in a battle, a very tough-fought battle for the duration of the game," Flood said of Army (per the transcript on ScarletKnights.com). "Regardless how that game goes, and you're always going to get an extremely spirited effort from their football team."
Game Time: 12 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J. Television: ESPNU