NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Gary Nova #15 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights reacts after throwing a pass against West Virginia Mountaineers at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 29, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Opening the season on the road is not the preferred way to build a football schedule, particularly for BCS programs. That’s what the Rutgers is doing this year though, with a trip to Louisiana to take on Tulane. The game could become more interesting with the storm hitting the Gulf coast this week, almost seven years after Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans. Tulane has already departed for Birmingham to continue its practice and avoid the storm.
Rutgers (9-4/4-3 in 2001) has a new head coach and staff, and a lot of optimism to begin the season. Long-time assistant Kyle Flood is now at the helm and has put Gary Nova in charge of his offense. The sophomore quarterback had success last year but also made some poor in-game decisions. He edged Chas Dodd for the starting role but must perform to keep the job. Wide receivers Brandon Coleman and Mark Harrison will strive to help him, while trying to fill a void left by Mohamed Sanu. At running back, Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins should get the bulk of the carries. The Knights defense, led by 2011 Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene, is arguably the best in conference.
Tulane is projected to finish last in the C-USA West division this year. The Green Wave is coming off a 2-11 season, with wins against (FCS) SE Louisiana and conference rival UAB. Like their opponent this week, Tulane has a new head coach:. The team does not have the same depth or experience though.
Rutgers should have little difficulty limiting the Tulane offense and their own offense will not need to fire on all cylinders to prevail in the game. A victory will send them home to face (FCS) Howard next week in Piscataway before they head back on the road for two demanding games against USF and Arkansas.
Pete's pick: Rutgers to cover