Rutgers looked like a team that had turned the corner in its 31-0 demolition of South Florida on a Thursday night ESPN game a little less than two weeks ago. The Scarlet Knights even jumped into the Associated Press Top 25 after that victory.
And maybe, for a young team, that spelled trouble.
Head coach Greg Schiano said that his players may have been impressed with themselves before going to Syracuse, where they promptly received some come-uppance in the form of a 31-13 humiliation.
"I'd be naive if I didn't believe [overconfidence] had a factor," Schiano said Monday. "It's a shame, because that's a lesson we should know by now."
If they didn't know it last week, then surely they won't let the same problem affect them this week against Louisville -- a team that, by the way, beat Syracuse two weeks ago.
"It was a perfect storm last week in a bad way for us," Schiano said. "I don't think that will be an issue this week."
Rutgers, though, will have to deal with an 11 a.m. Friday start before what is likely to be a sparse crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, against a team that has won all four of its games at home. And the Cardinals will have some incentive to play hard on Senior Day and in what's almost assuredly their final game under head coach Steve Kragthorpe.
The bigger issue for the Scarlet Knights might be the health of leading receiver Tim Brown. Though he set the school's career record for touchdowns in the Syracuse game, he also suffered a foot injury. He came back to play on it, but Schiano said Brown is day to day.
"The concern is after he stops playing, it gets worse," he said.
Brown is the team's best weapon in the passing game, and without him an already suspect offense becomes even less potent. At least Schiano thinks his team will have a better mindset this week.
“There is a way we do things here," he said. "Our players understand it and know we didn’t do it quite the way you're supposed to last week. And I think it has a result.”