Rutgers Football: 2011 Schedule Preview for the Scarlet Knights

Jayson LoveCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2011

Rutgers Football: 2011 Schedule Preview for the Scarlet Knights

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    According to, the Scarlet Knights will play the following non-conference schedule in 2011: They will host North Carolina Central, University of Ohio and Navy, and will travel to North Carolina and play Army at Yankee Stadium. 

    They will play four of their seven Big East at home, hosting Cincinnati, Pitt, South Florida and West Virginia, while traveling to face Connecticut, Louisville, and Syracuse.

Non-Conference Season Opener: North Carolina Central

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    The Knights will open their season on September 1st when they host UNC-Central. 

    The game will provide the young Scarlet Knights an opportunity to get a win under their belt and expose some of their young talent to college football for the first time.

    You would figure that if Savon Huggins is the type of player the Knights hope he is, the game would be his collegiate debut as a true freshman. 

    If all goes right, Chas Dodd will for the first time, enter the season as the starting quarterback and the game will provide an opportunity for him to start fast for Rutgers.

    The offensive line will be integrating new members, and will seek to improve on what may have been the worst statistical season in the history of college football, allowing a staggering 61 stacks.

    Rutgers is also integrating a new offensive coordinator and offensive system under Frank Cignetti.

    They lose Howard Barbieri (pictured holding Joe Martinek), who was the center on the line, but replace him with a very good junior college player in Dallas Hendrickson. 

    This game against NC Central gives the line a chance to push someone around and gain confidence.

Game 2: Traveling To UNC, September 10, 2011

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    The Knights will have nine days to prepare for the ACC's and Butch Davis's UNC Tarheels. After beating them in 2006, the Scarlet Knights have fallen short against North Carolina twice at Rutgers Stadium, once in 2007, and in this past season.

    The Tarheels have dealt with player suspensions and academic scandall under Butch Davis.

    The Heels are aiming high in 2011, and at least one Tarheels' writer, J.P. Giglio of, says that neither Big East team (Louisville) should leave Kenan Stadium with a win.

    We will see.

Game 3: September 24, 2011: Hosting the University of Ohio Bobcats

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    For the first time since 2006, the Knights will host Ohio's other state university, the University of Ohio.

    Ohio is a solid program from the MAC, and are well-coached by Frank Solich (pictured), formerly of the University of Nebraska.

    They won eight games, and made a bowl appearance against Troy State.

    They play a solid brand of football, and won't beat themselves.  They will provide a good challenge for Rutgers.

Non-Conference Game: Vs. Navy, October 15th, 2011

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    In the gap of 21 days, the Knights figure to begin their Big East schedule, although it would be nice to have 21 days to prepare for Navy.

    Navy is a true option team, one of a handful of teams still playing option-football in FBS football—Georgia Tech, Army and Air Force are the others.

    Navy may be the worst possible non-conference opponent.  If you beat them, "Great, you beat Navy," but a loss to Navy is, "You lost? To Navy???" That's the inherent problem with perception versus reality.

    A true fan of college football knows that Navy is a very solid FBS program, but that doesn't help national perception when you are trying to get Rutgers back to the level the school had attained in 2006.

Non-Conference Game 5: November 12th, 2011: Army at Yankee Stadium

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    Less than a month after the Yankees wrap up their season, the Knights will play a football game at Yankee Stadium against Army.

    The Black Knights play option football, and are an improved program.  Rutgers experience playing Navy by this point of the season ought to help them prepare for what is a slower, and less-developed option attack.

    Army is however, coming off their first bowl win of the 21st century, an Armed Forces Bowl win over SMU.  The game marked the first bowl appearance for Army since 1996.

Big East Schedule: Home Slate: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida and WVU

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    The Knights play four tough home opponents in Big East play.

    Cincinnati: After beating Cincinnati in 2005, the Knights have lost five straight times against the Bearcats. Although both programs were down in 2010, both programs missed bowls, the Bearcats embarrassed the Knights scoring 69 points in a victory over RU.

    Pittsburgh: After the Knights had beaten Pitt three times in a row, the Panthers have won two straight against the Scarlet Knights.  However, the Panthers forced head coach Dave Wannstedt to resign, and Rutgers poached both top recruits and coaches from the Pittsburgh program. 

    This should be an interesting one for RU.

    South Florida: The Knights lost a tough game by just one point in Tampa last season, 28-27. 

    West Virginia: Will this be the first time the Knights beat WVU since 1994?  This may be the year to do it. 

    WVU continues to go away from its spread attack that made the program's success in the early to mid 2000s.  Bill Stewart (pictured) is as lame-duck a coach as possible with his successor already hired, named, and on-staff. 

    Can R.U. finally take advantage?

Big East Road Schedule: UConn, Louisville and Syracuse

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    The Big East road games come against three programs Rutgers had been dominating until 2010.

    Connecticut: The Huskies navigated their Big East schedule with particular late-season aplomb, willing their way into a magic carpet ride of a BCS game run, a loss against Oklahoma. 

    However, one blemish on their schedule was a loss at Rutgers in what was Chas Dodd's coming out party.

    Louisville: Since Louisville beat Rutgers 56-5 on a Friday night in 2005, the Knights had pretty much had their way with the Cardinals. 

    Louisville hired Charlie Strong (pictured) and beat the Knights for the first time since 2007. 

    Syracuse: After Rutgers beat Syracuse four straight games, the Orange have beaten RU the last two times the teams have played. 

    Rutgers will seek to go to the Carrier Dome to win there for the first time since 2007.

Prediction: How Will R.U. Do with This Schedule?

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    This is a tricky slate for Rutgers and who knows what this year's R.U. squad will be?

    This is the most talented team Rutgers has had since 2006, but there is a lot of uncertainty coming off a disastrous 2010 campaign.

    This has the feel of a strange season—some great wins, and bad losses.  9-3 overall, a loss to Navy, but the Knights beat WVU for the first time since '92, and contend for the Big East Championship.