Big East Week Seven Feature Game
Saturday, October 13 • 12 noon ET • SNY, WatchESPN.com
High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454) • Piscataway, N.J.
Rutgers and Syracuse meet for the 43rd time in series history Saturday, dating back to 1914. The two teams have faced each other annually since 1980 and as Big East members since 1991. With Syracuse becoming a member of the ACC in 2013 however, this is the last scheduled game between the two schools. Syracuse leads the overall series 30-11-1, but Rutgers has won five of the last seven games. Last year, Rutgers pulled off a 19-16 double overtime victory at the Carrier Dome.
Visiting Syracuse has won two of its last three games, including a 14-13 victory over Pittsburgh at home in the Carrier Dome last Friday. Against the Panthers, defensive end Brandon Sharpe had seven tackles and four of the Orange’s five sacks of Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri, earning the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The Orange is tops in the Big East in passing offense (310.4 yards per game) and first downs (25.4 per game), and ranks third in total offense (451.0 yards per game). Nationally, Syracuse is 17th in the NCAA in passing, 18th in first downs, and 37th in total offense. The team has averaged 82.6 more passing yards and 6.4 additional first downs per game compared to last season.
Rutgers defeated UConn 19-3 last Saturday in Piscataway and is ranked 20th in the current AP Top 25. With a win Saturday, the Scarlet Knights would reach 6-0 for just the fifth time in their 143-year history and 3-0 in conference play for the second time since joining the Big East in 1991. Kyle Flood would become the first head coach to start his Rutgers coaching career 6-0, and the team would become bowl eligible for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
With its 26-0 defeat of Howard University September 8, Rutgers became the only school in the nation to post a shutout in each of the last seven seasons. Rutgers is ranked second nationally in rushing defense, yielding just 60.6 yards per game (behind BYU at 59.5 and ahead of Alabama at 65.8 yards). The Scarlet Knights have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in nine straight games.
Against UConn last week, Rutgers’ Jawan Jamison rushed for his sixth consecutive 100-yard game to start the dating back to the Pinstripe Bowl in December 2012. Jamison has gone over the century mark eight times in his college career. Rutgers’ Ray Rice had eight consecutive 100-yard games to finish the 2007 season.
The overall edge in the contest goes to Rutgers by virtue of its defense and home field advantage. There are plenty of Syracuse alumni within a short distance of Piscataway though, so the partisan crowd won’t be completely dominant. The most telling season statistic in Rutgers favor though may be turnover ratio. The Scarlet Knights are ranked seventh nationally in turnover margin (+1.8) while Syracuse is 109th in the same category (-1.2). After making four interceptions last week, look for Rutgers to pressure Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in hopes creating takeaways.
Line: Rutgers -7
Pick: Rutgers 24-13
Big East Power Rankings:
1. Rutgers #20 (5-0, 2-0)
2. Louisville #18 (5-0, 0-0)
3. Cincinnati #21 (4-0, 1-0)
4. UConn (3-3, 0-1)
5. Syracuse (2-3, 1-0)
6. Temple (2-2, 1-0)
7. Pitt (2-3, 0-2)
8. USF (2-4, 0-2)
Other Big East games this week:
Temple at UConn (-5)
Louisville (-3) at Pitt
Fordham at Cincinnati (no line)
Big East Week Six Recap
Pittsburgh 13 at Syracuse 14
UConn 3 at Rutgers 19
Miami (Ohio) 14 at Cincinnati 52
USF 28 at Temple 37
Conference Players of Week 6:
Offense: Montel Harris, RB, Temple
Defense: Brandon Sharpe, DE, Syracuse
Special Teams: Tony Miliano, K, Cincinnati
Pete Sonski is a contributor to College Football Zealots. Follow him on Twitter @29sonski and check out his work at Big East Coast Bias. and his Three Point Stance show every Tuesday at 9 PM on Blog Talk Radio.