Rutgers Football: Projecting How Scarlet Knights Will Fare Down the Stretch
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights may be flying under the national radar this November, but the rest of the Big East is well aware of their success and defensive dominance this season.
At 4-0, Kyle Flood's squad is three wins away from locking up its first ever Big East conference championship, which is hard to believe considering this is Flood's first season in charge of the program following the decade-long Greg Schiano era.
So, what's in store for the finish?
Here we project how Rutgers will fare over the final stretch of the 2012 season.
November 17: At Cincinnati
Rutgers' next matchup will take place in Week 12 against Cincinnati on the road. Of course, the Bearcats have tons of incentive to win given the fact that they have just one loss in conference play.
Still, it's hard to pick against the Knights on the road with that dominant defense. What Cincinnati does best on offense is run the football, and that plays right into Rutgers' strengths, with one of the country's most underrated and dominant front sevens. The Knights gave up just one touchdown to the nation's No. 1-ranked rushing attack in Army in their most recent win.
When you consider that Kyle Flood's stoppers have surrendered more than 15 points on just two occasions this season, it's extremely difficult to see the Bearcats scoring enough points to win, even at home.
Projection: Rutgers 24, Cincinnati 17
November 24: At Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh will have the advantage of an extra week to rest before its Week 13 showdown with Rutgers. However, don't expect that to make a difference for the Panthers, who will be in the midst of their third two-game losing skid of the season.
Cincinnati and Louisville both have wins over Pittsburgh already this year, and Rutgers has no choice but to join them if its going to contend for the conference title.
As far as the matchup is concerned, there isn't a whole lot about Pitt that should scare Rutgers. The Panthers are average on both sides of the ball, and will find offensive success very difficult to come by against Rutgers' stout defensive crew.
Projection: Rutgers 27, Pittsburgh 13
November 29: Vs. Louisville
How will Rutgers finish in the Big East in 2012?
Rutgers' biggest game of the year will be its regular-season finale against Louisville.
Not only will the Scarlet Knights be coming off a short week, with this game being played on a Thursday night, but the Cardinals won their first nine games of 2012 and will still be in contention to win the conference on November 29.
Rutgers' most obvious challenge in this matchup will be defending Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for four quarters. The Knights boast a Top-Five scoring defense this fall, but the Cardinals' sophomore signal-caller has accounted for nearly 2,900 yards and 21 touchdowns through the air heading into Week 12.
As it will be at home and on ESPN, I believe Rutgers will do just enough defensively to grind out a win over its Big East rival, finishing 7-0 in the conference and claiming its first title since joining the Big East in 1991.
Projection: Rutgers 23, Louisville 20
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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