Rutgers looking for share of Big East title

Rutgers can claim a share of the Big East championship with a

win over Connecticut in East Hartford on Saturday, quite a

turnaround for a team picked to finish at the bottom of the

conference standings for a second straight season.

”It’s huge,” said quarterback Chas Dodd. ”Ever since the

polls first came out, I’ve been talking to everyone and that was a

big thing that guys were using as ammunition. We were picked last

and we want to show guys that that’s definitely not where we

belong. And I feel like we’ve done a good job of that so far. We

just have to finish that off.”

The Scarlet Knights (8-3, 4-2 Big East) would be the first team

in league history to go from worst to first in consecutive


”Obviously we know what we’re in for,” nose tackle Scott

Vallone said. ”We know whatever needs to happen. But none of that

matters if we don’t win the game on Saturday. So we’re going to be

focused on that, and we’re going to put our full attention on

Connecticut because we know if we look past any time on our

schedule they could easily beat us. We go to win the game. That’s

the bottom line.”

Connecticut (4-6, 2-3) doesn’t have as much at stake. Their loss

to Louisville last week took UConn out of the Big East championship

picture. But the Huskies are still hoping for a .500 season and a

bowl bid, and must beat Rutgers and Cincinnati to do that.

”It would have been good for this to mean a little bit more on

a college football level,” said kicker Dave Teggart. ”But it

still means a lot. We’re still trying to make a bowl.”

The Huskies also have revenge on their minds. Rutgers has taken

five of the last six games between the two teams, including the

last three by a total of nine points. Last year’s win came on a

34-yard field goal with 13 seconds left. In 2009, Rutgers won on an

81-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left.

”It’s a very bitter taste in our mouths,” defensive tackle

Kendall Reyes said. ”We want to get this one.”

Reyes is one of 13 seniors who will play their final home game

at Rentschler Field. It’s a class that has played through

everything from the stabbing death of teammate Jasper Howard in

2009 to the program’s first BCS bowl game last January.

”I feel like they won’t remember you on how you came in, but

how you left, mostly,” wide receiver Kashif Moore said. ”That’s

why we need this one.”

The game will feature two good freshmen running backs.

Rutgers’ Jawan Jamison rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns

in the Scarlet Knight’s upset of Cincinnati last week, becoming

just the fifth back in school history to reach 200 in a game.

UConn will counter with Lyle McCombs, who comes into the game

with 1,014 yards, averaging over 103 yards a game. It’s the fourth

consecutive year the Huskies have had a 1,000-yard back.

”A running back likes to see as far as numbers go, 100-yard

games and 1,000-yard seasons,” McCombs said. ”I’m happy to

achieve that, especially as a freshman, but more importantly, we

need more wins.”

A Rutgers win would be the fourth straight for the Scarlet

Knights, and senior David Rowe says it would be one of the most

satisfying of his career.

”I think so, especially with the season we had last year,” he

said. ”Being picked last, I think we really came out and worked

hard this year and it’s a great feeling.”