Rutgers Football: Back to Back Big East Wins Has Knights in National Picture

Jayson LoveCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2011

Greg Schiano has Rutgers on the brink of the polls
Greg Schiano has Rutgers on the brink of the pollsJim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Scarlet Knights barely escaped Syracuse with a win last weekend, recovering a fumble to beat the Orange in overtime 19-16.  This week, the Knights left little in doubt.

With the score 6-3 Knights at the half, RU used its stingy and opportunistic defense to hold Pitt to just one scoring drive, en route to a 34-10 destruction of the Panthers.

Rutgers is coming off a down season, in which it lost its last six games, and entering the season picked dead last in the preseason Big East poll, a bowl game in 2011 seemed a pipe dream for this program.

However, since an FBS loss to UNC, the Knights have reeled off four straight wins, including back-to-back conference wins that albeit early, have the Knights in the top spot of the Big East nearly half-way through the season's slate.

The team has won back-to-back Big East games for the first time since defeating UConn and South Florida on consecutive weeks in the fall of 2009.

CBS Sports had the Knights ranked at No. 29 in their ranking of the nations' 120 FBS teams and it will be interesting to see how much attention the win over Pitt gains RU this week.

Although Pitt was unranked coming into the game, the Panthers were coming off a thrashing of South Florida who had entered the game at No. 16, and undefeated on the season.

The Knights were a nine-point underdog, and Pitt had been receiving votes in the AP poll.

Rutgers was already receiving votes in the coaches' poll, after their win over S.U. last weekend.

It wasn't just the win that should vault Rutgers into the poll-picture, but the way in which the Knights used their defense to dismantle Pitt, forcing four turnovers including the interception by Logan Ryan that went for a touchdown in the second half.

Should the Knights find themselves on the cusp of the polls this week, they will be in prime position to hit the top 25 after next weekend,  They have a matchup with Navy at home on October 15.

Although playing Navy is never easy, the Knights would be favored to defeat the Midshipmen and move into the polls with what would be a 5-1 record.