The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have been a team flirting with greatness for the last several seasons, but haven’t really been able to break through in the way that they have wanted to. They went to five straight bowl games under former head coach Greg Schiano before missing out on a post-season appearance following the 2010 season, but have since not missed out on going bowling. Could the Scarlet Knights final year in the Big East be the one in which they finally snag an outright conference championship? I’m giving them a very solid chance at doing just that.
I’m pretty sure that Rutgers’ last year in the Big East will be the last year that the conference plays football at all. Football schools seem to be in a rush to get out of the conference and in no big hurry to get in. However, I’ll pretend that this lackluster conference will continue to trudge on indefinitely into football insignificance for the sake of this article.
I only see one team in the Big East that can beat the Scarlet Knights. The Louisville Cardinals will also be on a farewell tour next season, and with QB Teddy Bridgewater coming back along with a bevy of other weapons, they will be a dangerous team. One may be inclined to throw out the Cincinnati Bearcats as a possible threat to Rutgers, but they will be in a rebuilding state next season. The Bearcats will presumably be turning back to QB Munchie Legaux to lead them, but are losing their top running back and top two receivers as well as big chunks of their D and lest we forget will be adjusting to new head coach Tommy Tuberville. The Big East will be a two-horse race in 2013.
Quarterback Gary Nova will be back for the Scarlet Knights, as will top WR Brandon Coleman, and both of their top running backs, Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins. Jamison is also a threat in the passing game out of the backfield. The worry for Rutgers will be that they are going to have gaps to fill in the defensive secondary and in the line backing corps. Given the inability of most Big East teams to move the ball on offense, though, I think they will have time to figure it out.
Rutgers has to travel to face Louisville which doesn’t help them, however, I’m going to go head and toss out the overrated card for the Cardinals and their 2013 squad. They managed to shock the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl, but I think everybody and their mother is going to be aiming to gun them down next year, and I’m not confident that the Cardinals can stand up under the pressure.
The Scarlet Knights won’t be walking to an outright Big East title in 2013, but if they handle their business, the only real challenge for them next year will be toppling the reigning Big East champs. Did I mention that Rutgers and Louisville were actually part of a four-way tie for the Big East championship in 2012, and that the Cardinals got the nod due to their BCS rank? Yeah…Rutgers can beat those guys.