When the 2-3 Syracuse Orange travel to Piscataway, NJ to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday, they'll be doing so against an undefeated squad that's nationally-ranked. I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to the Knights than to ruin that perfect start.
Rutgers, ranked No. 20 in the latest AP Poll, silenced the Connecticut Huskies by the score of 19-3 over the weekend. For the Huskies, it was an embarrassment that has already driven many Husky fans past the brink of patience for Coach P.
Much like many of their wins this season, it was a "well, you were supposed to do that" win for the Scarlets. They started out with a 24-12 win over a horrible Tulane (0-5) squad. They followed that up with a 26-0 win over FCS Howard. Next came a 23-13 win over South Florida that the Bulls are making look less impressive by the week. Finally, the Knights did march into Fayetteville and top the Arkansas Razorbacks 35-36 and while Arkansas isn't all that good this season, it's still a formidable road game against SEC talent, so, good on you for that one.
There's no denying that Rutgers is a decent team. They've succeeded where Syracuse has failed this year i.e. winning the games they're supposed to. However, they haven't looked like the kind of team that can just manhandle us. The game still looks winnable from here. Rutgers' offense is ranked 89th in the nation (SU is No. 37), so if our defense can limit the big plays and get some more precious, precious turnovers, we can keep them in check. It's the defense that should concern us as they're No. 15 in the nation (296 YPG). Compared to Syracuse's No. 40 (355 YPG).
Rutgers in fact has the No. 2 rushing defense in the nation, currently, trailing only Alabama. They give up a scant 60 rushing yards per contest. The good news for us, I suppose, is that we rely so much more of our passing game anyway that it kinda doesn't matter. However, Ryan Nassib is going to have to bring back that A-game for this one.