By JOHN GARRETT
Having a .500 record isn’t all that impressive, but battling back from a 1-5 start to have a chance at a bowl berth – depending on the outcome of the next two games – may just be. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights traveled to Raymond James Stadium to take on the South Florida Bulls last Saturday, and the outcome was record setting.
The Knights (5-5, 4-2 in Big East play) looked like a different team than the one that played the first half of the season en route to a 49-16 shellacking of the Bulls (6-4, 1-4 in Big East play) – the largest margin of victory in a league road game in Rutgers’ school history.
The Knights played one of their most complete games of the season: the defense forced six turnovers, and quarterback Mike Teel left memories of a slow start to his senior season far behind, throwing for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
But one of the most unlikely heroes–due to his coverage difficulties earlier this season–was senior cornerback Jason McCourty, who had quite a day. McCourty not only recorded the first two interceptions of his career, one of which he returned for a 30-yard touchdown, but he also recovered a fumble and had a crucial 59-yard kickoff return which put Rutgers in position to tack-on another score and go into the half ahead 21-10.
Junior wide receiver Kenny Britt also contributed offensively, registering his fifth 100-yard effort in the last six games. Britt ended the contest with 173 yards receiving, including a 93-yard score – the second longest play from scrimmage in Rutgers’ history. Britt also became Rutgers' all-time leading receiver, with 2,666 yards, in the win.
Following the game, both Britt and McCourty were named Big East offensive and defensive players of the week respectively. The awards marked the fourth straight week a Rutgers player was honored. Other recipients included linebacker Ryan D'Imperio (Oct. 20), quarterback Mike Teel (Oct. 27) and running back Kordell Young (Nov. 10).
According to ESPN.com, no team from a BCS conference has overcome a 1-5 start and wound up in a bowl game since 2003. As crazy as it might have sounded a few weeks ago, with two home games remaining on the schedule (Army and Louisville), and after reeling off four-straight wins, Rutgers now controls their own bowl destiny.
Friday, November 21, 2008
By JOHN GARRETT