For starters, Rutgers will be challenged

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Fresno State coach Pat Hill's motto is "anybody, anytime, anywhere." Rutgers coach Greg Schiano's mantra this spring was more like"somebody, sometime, preferably at our place."

The Scarlet Knights desperately sought a 12th opponent all the way up until about April. Schiano said that's when he attended a coaches' function and was talking on the phone to school officials back in Piscataway about the scheduling situation. He noticed Hill a few feet away talking on the phone about needing a game as well.

Problem solved.

But also, problem created.

Rutgers now has one of the tougher matchups of opening weekend, taking on an experienced and talented Fresno State team that could bust the BCS (4 p.m. ET, ESPN).

"It's not exactly what I was looking to do right out of the gate," Schiano said last week. "But we were trying to find a Division I opponent, and there were not a lot out there."

Schiano hasn't shied away from challenging openers. In 2004, the Scarlet Knights began the year by beating Michigan State. In 2005, they lost on the road to Illinois in overtime. In 2006, they topped North Carolina on the road, setting the tone for an 11-2 season.

"I think the players are excited about it," Schiano said. "It's a good chance to see how good we are."

Rutgers hasn't gotten as much preseason pub as Big East partners South Florida, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. But the Scarlet Knights return 15 starters off last year's 8-5 team and are coming off three straight bowl games.

They also have a chance to salvage something good for the conference on an otherwise forgettable opening weekend. League teams have gone 0-3 so far against FBS opponents, losing by an average of 18.3 points. Pittsburgh and Louisville suffered embarrassingly bad defeats at home.

Can Rutgers save the Big East a little face? The time to find out is almost now.