Key stretch: Rutgers

This is the fourth part in a series examining the most crucial stretches of the schedule for each Big East team. Rutgers, take a bow.

Key stretch: at Pittsburgh (Oct. 23), at South Florida (Nov. 3), Syracuse (Nov. 13), at Cincinnati (Nov. 20).

Breakdown: As you know, Rutgers isn't exactly known for playing the most demanding schedules. But the Scarlet Knights don't have control over their Big East slate, and three of its four league road games come in this four-game stretch.

Still, there are some things to like about this quartet if you're a Rutgers fan. The team has 10 days off between both the Pitt and USF games and the USF and Syracuse games. The Scarlet Knights blew out South Florida last year, and though they lost to the Orange in 2009, they get them at home for a shot at revenge. They've played well against Pitt in the past, finally having a long winning streak snapped last year in a close game. The Cincinnati game looks like it could be the toughest one of this bunch.

Prediction: Just like Rutgers' entire season, this will all depend on how well and how quickly a young team comes together. Conference road games are notoriously tough for young players. I like Rutgers to win in Tampa but drop the other two road contests, while evening the score against Doug Marrone at home. So make it 2-2.

Previous key stretches:


West Virginia