For the first time in over 40 years the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers are ranked in the top 30 at number 23. The Knights have won their first four in-a-row, including the season opener against the University of North Carolina.
In our NCAA football preview, Maddux Sports noted that, â€œLast season, the Scarlet Knights went 7-4 in the regular season and then lost to Arizona 40-45 in the Insight Bowl. Rutgers should win 7 again in 2006, but they have the potential to win as many as 11. That means making the most out of swing games against North Carolina, South Florida, Navy and Pittsburgh. This could be their year.â€?
So far it has been their year. But three of those four swing games are now in front of them as they play South Florida (September 30), Bye Week (October 7), Navy (October 14) and Pittsburgh (September 21). South Florida (3-1), like Rutgers, is in the Big East Conference.
Going into the toughest part of their season, Rutgers is without their most experienced receiver, Shawn Tucker, who broke an ankle in last weekâ€™s game against Howard.
QB Mike Keel has had a tough time with the passing game as the Scarlet Knights have relied upon their running, defense and special teams to do the job. Turner is the third starting receiver to go down this season.
Playing at South Florida, Rutgers is listed on the odds boards as being between -3.5 and -4. This is the first conference game for both teams. Will Rutgers stay in the top 25? Certainly not if they lose to unranked South Florida. Is this game winnable for them? Very much so.
Rutgers has blown out three of its four opponents, while South Florida has eked out victories in two of its three wins. On the horizon for the Knights is a surprisingly tough Pittsburgh (3-1) team and then two powerhouses– #8 Louisville (November 9) and #4 West Virginia (December 2). Both the Cardinals and Mountaineers are 4-0, and all three teams are in the Big East.
One thing is for certain the Knights are certainly making Saturday afternoons interesting.