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Rutgers' Rice OK, says he'll be ready to face Louisville

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Ray Rice said the left ankle he injured
late in Sunday night's 24-13 win over Connecticut is fine, a
pronouncement no doubt followed by the sound of the entire Rutgers
community exhaling.

"It's just a little sore. I'm ready to go," Rice said Monday,
a little more than 12 hours after the No. 15 Scarlet Knights
improved to 8-0 by holding off the Huskies in one of their least
impressive wins of the season.

The schedule will aid in Rice's recovery: Rutgers has 10 days
before it hosts No. 5 Louisville (7-0) in what is being billed as
the biggest game here in decades. Rice said he expects to play
against the Cardinals.

The sophomore running back, who is the third-leading rusher in
the nation with 1,203 yards, limped off the field in the fourth
quarter but later returned to help Rutgers run out the clock after
Quintero Frierson returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to give
the Scarlet Knights some breathing room.

A UConn player fell on Rice's ankle during a pileup. The injury
was not as serious as he originally thought, but was followed by a
cramp in his calf that forced him to leave the game for good.

"When you get twisted like that, you get an initial instinct,
and I was scared because of the way it happened," he said. "But
it was one of those things that shakes you up at first, but then
you put weight on it and you realize it's OK."

Rice wore an ice pack on the ankle in the locker room after the
game but was able to leave the building without assistance, said
coach Greg Schiano, who sounded a slightly more cautious tone on
Monday.

"I'm sure it's hurting today and he's going to be hobbled a
little bit," Schiano said. "After a couple of hours he seemed to
feel like it wasn't that bad. We'll have to see."

Rice has been the driving force behind Rutgers' transformation
from a perennial doormat to a Top 25 team. He gained 1,120 yards
last season when the Scarlet Knights had their first winning season
in 13 years and went to a bowl for the first time in 27 years.

This season he has three 200-yard games and has scored 13
rushing touchdowns, tying him for fifth in the country. His value
to the offense was illustrated against UConn, when he had his
lowest output of the season -- 79 yards on 22 carries -- and the
Scarlet Knights needed scores by their defense and special teams to
put away the Huskies.

After a textbook opening drive that produced a 5-yard touchdown
run by Rice, Rutgers did little offensively the rest of the game.
Schiano pointed to three drops on deep passes as critical mistakes
and said the passing game will be one focal point during the next
10 days.

"We need to convert on those plays," he said. "It's awful
hard to keep pounding it against a run-stopping defense. We've got
to be able to make those plays to loosen those things up. That
allows you to do the rest of your stuff."