Rutgers Football: 6 Games That Affect the Knights' Bowl and Conference Status

Jayson LoveCorrespondent INovember 12, 2011

Rutgers Football: 6 Games That Affect the Knights' Bowl and Conference Status

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    Rutgers has a big game with Army this weekend.

    At a glance, you might think, "Army? what's the big deal?"

    The game's importance is tied to its timing in the season and to one of Rutgers players—Chas Dodd.

    In last year's Army game, Rutgers lost one of its emotional leaders, Eric LeGrand, to a spinal cord injury suffered while making a special teams tackle.

    One of the positives to come out of that game was Chas Dodd's ability to lead a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback, and another comeback in overtime when RU trailed by three.

    Dodd seemed to be emerging as RU's starting quarterback, but this season, Dodd seemed to regress.

    He lost his starting job to a highly touted freshman, Gary Nova, a product of Don Bosco Prep.

    However, in recent weeks, Nova struggled, and Dodd regained his job after leading RU to another double-digit fourth-quarter comeback last weekend against South Florida.

    Now he has an opportunity to get RU to seven wins, guarantee a winning season and keep the confidence going to get back into conference championship contention.  It also represents an opportunity for RU to get in contention for the best possible bowl game.

    With the Knights playing out of conference, fans can sit back and watch the rest of the college football teams beat up on each other. 

    In addition to the Knights getting past Army, here are five games that affect the Knights conference title hopes and the Knights' bowl game destination...

South Florida 37, Syracuse 17

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    After three excruciating losses in a row, USF got off the mat and blew out Syracuse 37-17 last night.

    Syracuse, a team that somehow blew out West Virginia, slipped to 1-4 in Big East play and into a tie for last place with USF.

    USF's schedule has forced three trips to the northeast in the last four weeks, but that didn't seem to affect the team last night.

    RU has wins over both these teams, and both teams remain one win from bowl eligibility.

    The Big East has ties to six bowls, and only has three bowl-eligible teams. Rutgers is one of those teams with six wins.

    This was a good result for RU fans.

WVU at No. 23 Cincinnatti

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    Amazingly, WVU dropped a home game to Louisville last weekend, dropping the Mountaineers to two conferences losses on the season.

    The Big East favorite now finds itself in fourth place in the conference, but holding the tiebreaker against Rutgers with its 41-31 win two weeks ago at Highpoint Solutions Stadium.

    What is equally amazing is that Cincy is once again undefeated in conference play this late in the season.

    The Bearcats pulled out another close win against Pitt last weekend and will seek to take control of the conference.

    It seems strange, but RU fans should root for WVU this weekend.

    Although the win would put WVU in third place, a spot ahead of Rutgers, it would put the Knights in position to tie the Bearcats for first place with a win against UC next week.

Pitt vs. Lousville

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    This is a HUGE game for Rutgers.

    The Knights lost a tough one against Louisville three weeks ago.

    That loss doesn't look as bad when you consider that Louisville took down WVU on the road last weekend.

    Louisville has amazingly moved its record to 3-1 in conference, and is in second place in the Big East behind the Cincinnati Bearcats.

    The Knights need Pitt, a team getting used to life without leading rusher Ray Graham, to rise up and take down Louisville this weekend. 

Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

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    The BVAA Compass Bowl pits a team from the Big East against a team from the SEC.

    If Rutgers doesn't get the BCS game, or the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, there is a chance RU ends up in this game.

    The SEC is top heavy this year and is short on bowl-eligible teams.

    If Knights fans don't want to attend a bowl game against a team from the Sun Belt, they need another SEC team to gain bowl eligibility.

    Kentucky or Vanderbilt will get to five wins after this clash of schools with records of 4-5.

Baylor vs. Kansas

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    With NYC and the Pinstripe Bowl a likely landing spot for RU, the team would play a Big 12 school.

    Baylor would be a fun opponent for Rutgers, with its star quarterback Robert Griffin III.

    The Bears need a win for bowl eligibility, and Kansas is 2-7.