It's a Stretch, But Rutgers Can Still Make the Gator Bowl

Josh RosenbergCorrespondent INovember 26, 2009

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Joe Martinek #38 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights runs the ball past Quenton Washington #2 of the South Florida Bulls for a fourth quarter touchdown at Rutgers Stadium on November 12, 2009 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers won the game 31-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The game clock showed 00:00.  The embarrassment was over.  The score was Syracuse 31 Rutgers 14 and out came the laptops and post-game articles.

Article after article talked about how after getting crushed by the Orangemen, Rutgers lost all their chances of playing in the Gator Bowl come January 1.  They claimed that now even if the Scarlet Knights win out they will go to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. 

But here I am to tell all you Rutgers fans that the people who wrote these articles are wrong.

"Wrong?" asks the common Rutgers fan.

"Yes, WRONG!” I respond.

"But how could this be??" He/she inquires.

This is the part where I smirk and respond, "Well..."

Yes, they are all wrong.  Despite what everyone else is saying, there is still a chance Rutgers will make the Gator Bowl.

There isn't necessarily a good chance, but there IS a slim one.

For Rutgers to make the Gator Bowl, there are three things must happen.

Rutgers must win out

This is the most obvious of the three and the most important.  Instead of waking up early looking for big sales at stores, Rutgers will be in Louisville taking on the Cardinals in a Black Friday match up.

Louisville is at a humble 3-8 and this should be an easy win for Rutgers.  Then again, that's what we thought about Syracuse and look what happened in that game.

Rutgers then plays West Virginia on December 5.  This is another winnable game.  If Rutgers can run the ball early and often (that means Joe Martinek should get 20 carries with a side of Jourdan Brooks' 5-10) instead of having freshman QB Tom Savage drop back thirty times behind a rag-tag offensive line, Rutgers' offense could be solid and they could come out with wins at both of these games.

This would put the Scarlet Knights' at 9-3.  They would finish third in the Big East and would be first in line to make the Gator Bowl should the next two things occur.

2.  Notre Dame must go 6-6.

Everyone loves to hate Notre Dame, Big East teams especially.

Right now Notre Dame sits at 6-5.  They play Stanford this Saturday and if the Fighting Irish win they will most likely make the Gator Bowl.  If they lose to Stanford, they will be out of consideration for it and the bowl will go to a Big East team.

Now you're probably going to say, "The bowl will go to Pitt regardless, who will be 10-2."

You have just gone by what all the other analysts and writers have said.  Pitt will lose to Cincinnati and go 10-2.  In No. 3, I present you with a startling alternative.

3.  Pitt has to beat 

What if Pitt doesn't lose to Cincinnati?

It's a very possible situation.  Cincinnati has played some very close games recently and Pitt is only three spots behind them in the BCS rankings. 

If the Panthers can show the Bearcats who's top cat, they win the Big East and play in the Sugar Bowl against the loser of Alabama-Florida.

This means Cincinnati would still be 11-1 and would definitely get a BCS at-large bid, leaving the Gator Bowl to the next available suitor, Rutgers.

Although this might sound crazy, it really isn't that outrageous of an idea.  It could very well be that all three of these factors will go in Rutgers' favor.

But instead of looking forward to and projecting what COULD happen in the future, we should all be focusing on what's directly ahead of Rutgers.

The one-game-at-a-time mentality is what worked so well at Rutgers and this Friday, at 11:00 am on ESPN2 the Knights must focus only on beating Louisville and worry about the rest after.  This goes for us fans too.

Have a happy Thanksgiving and hopefully we'll be able to sit down at TVs and watch Rutgers play in Jacksonville, Florida on a later holiday, New Year's Day.

Keep chopping and GO RU!!