Midseason report: Rutgers


Record: 6-0, 3-0 Big East

Replace a head coach days before a national signing day that's expected to bring in the best recruiting class in school history, then watch all but two staff members depart with said head coach.

Not exactly the blueprint for a 6-0 start from a program that has never won a Big East title.

But Kyle Flood has gotten it done so far at Rutgers. The only first-year head coach still standing unbeaten has relied on a very strong defense, timely special teams play and a workhorse running back to put the Scarlet Knights into position to win the conference crown.

Rutgers is giving up just 11.5 points per game, good for third nationally. The Scarlet Knights are second against the run, surrendering 60.83 yards on the ground per game. And their 2.17 turnover margin is the country's best, and probably the biggest reason they are off to such a hot start.

Look no further than last weekend against Syracuse, a team that outgained Rutgers by nearly 200 yards. The Scarlet Knights returned a blocked field goal attempt for a score and forced four turnovers to wrestle away what was a 7-7 game at the half.

Up front, Rutgers has been tremendous, with an offensive line that is third nationally in sacks allowed (0.5 per game) paving the way for the workhorse back Jawan Jamison, who eclipsed the 100-yard mark in his first five games. The Scarlet Knights have taken a mostly conservative approach on offense, but quarterback Gary Nova delivered when his team needed him most, tossing for 397 yards and five touchdown passes in a huge shootout win at Arkansas in Week 4.

Temple, Kent State and Army are next in line for the Big East's highest-ranked team (No. 15, BCS), which has every reason to feel it should be 9-0 going into a Nov. 17 tilt at Cincinnati. Win that, and the regular-season finale two weeks later against Louisville might be the hottest ticket in program history, with a likely Big East title at stake.

Offensive MVP: Running back Jawan Jamison. Jamison's 100-yard game streak was stopped in game No. 6, but he has been invaluable to this offense. Carrying the ball 26.3 times per game, Jamison has rushed for 665 yards -- more than anyone in the Big East -- and has three rushing touchdowns, along with 130 receiving yards and a score on 10 catches.

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Khaseem Greene. Greene's monster day last weekend against Syracuse reminded everyone who the reigning Big East defensive player of the year is. He leads the conference with four forced fumbles, and his 63 tackles are No. 2 in the Big East.