Rutgers’ win over Cincinnati wasn’t pretty — wins rarely have been for the Scarlet Knights this season — but the RU defense shut the Bearcats out of the end zone en route to a 10-3 win. With the victory, Kyle Flood has Rutgers one game away from reaching the program’s first BCS bowl.
The decisive offensive play came early. RU quarterback Gary Nova threw a 71-yard pass to Mark Harrison in the second quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Harrison caught for 104 yards, one of two impressive individual offensive efforts for the Scarlet Knights. Sophomore running back Savon Huggins lived up to the lofty expectations he brought as a recruit, carrying the ball 41 times for 179 yards in his first start.
RU was just unable to parlay Huggins’ yards into points. Credit a Cincinnati defense ranked in the top 20 nationally coming into Saturday’s match-up. The Bearcats snatched two interceptions of Nova and weathered the storm Huggins conjured. UC’s defense was good — Rutgers’ defense was great.
Linebacker Khaseem Greene had yet another All-America worthy performance with 11.5 tackles and 3.5 for loss. In 10 games, Rutgers has surrendered all of 124 points this season.
Cincinnati started Brandon Kay at quarterback. Munchie Legaux was UC’s starter much of the season, but inconsistency reopened the quarterback competition. Kay struggled on Saturday, going 17-31 with two interceptions. The dual threat quarterback Kay led an ineffective Cincinnati rushing attack with 45 yards on 13 carries.
The loss all but eliminates Cincinnati from Big East title contention, while putting Rutgers firmly in control of its BCS destiny. The program has never been to a BCS bowl, coming its closest in 2006. RU catapulted into the BCS top 12 that November, but suffered two late season losses.
Rutgers finishes with a road game at Pitt, before hosting Louisville in what should be the de facto Big East championship game. Even if Rutgers loses to Pitt, the Scarlet Knights will earn the Big East’s automatic BCS bowl berth with a defeat of the Cardinals.