Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
There are some games that look like little more than scrimmages on paper. And there are some that are, quite frankly, less important than a scrimmage.
Rutgers has the latter situation this week. The Scarlet Knights will play host to Texas Southern, an FCS team that has lost 58-0 to Louisiana-Monroe and 52-18 to Texas State this season. The Tigers' only win on the year came in a 75-6 rout of Texas College, an NAIA school.
So, yeah, this game will be about as competitive as Rutgers' 45-7 win over Howard. What's worse is that a win means absolutely nothing, because the Scarlet Knights already have their victory over an FCS school. Only one per season counts toward bowl eligibility. Rutgers probably got more work in while scrimmaging itself during the bye week last week.
"What matters to me is that we have to get better," coach Greg Schiano said. "As I have said many times, the exams count more than the quizzes. Practices are a quiz and the games are exams."
Schiano is still working with a lot of younger players, including new starting guard Desmond Wynn. And of course, his quarterback, Tom Savage, is a true freshman with only two career starts under his belt. He's coming back this week from a concussion that held him out of the last game. Every game situation will only make him better prepared for Big East play, which resumes for Rutgers on Oct. 16 against Pitt.
The Scarlet Knights have been far from sharp so far this season. Even the Maryland win featured some sloppy offensive play until they broke things open in the second half.
"I think we are a team that is going to take the better part of the year to come close to being what we want to be," Schiano said. "I don’t know how many teams aren’t that way. There are not a lot of teams that start the year loaded and ready and are making tiny improvements, if any at all.
"I think we can get a lot better. We have to do it. My reality and my vision are two different things right now. We need to get better to fulfill the vision of what the 2009 team can be."
Texas Southern does have some talent. The program has added about 20 transfers from FBS programs in the past two years, earning it the nickname Second Chance U. This ESPN The Magazine story (insider access required) tells the tale of Johnnie Cole's rebuilding project.
"When you see a group of talented transfers that haven’t quite meshed yet, the concern is that this is the week that it all comes together," Schiano said.
Um, sure. Schiano has to build his opponent up somehow, we suppose. Texas Southern was added to the schedule in April, as the Scarlet Knights had to fill holes when Buffalo and Navy pulled out of planned games.
They could have -- and should have -- aimed higher than this. Instead, Rutgers will play a game that basically a glorified scrimmage on Saturday. If that.