Rutgers Pitches A Perfect 2nd Half; Drops Louisville, 28-25
Long the whipping boys of the Big East, the Rutgers Scarlett Knights slayed the conference's Goliath, the Louisville Cardinals, in impressive fashion tonight. After falling behind 25-14 at the half, many (well, me at least) declared the game over, as it seemed improbable that Rutgers would be capable of outscoring Louisville, one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, by more than 11 in the second half. The Scarlett Knights had other thoughts apparently, as their defense completely shut down the Cardinals in the second half, while the Rutgers offense woke up with two touchdowns by Ray Rice and two field goals by Jeremy Ito, including a game-winning 28-yarder with just 13-seconds remaining.
So, what does this mean to Rutgers, the Big East, and the BCS Championship?
For Rutgers, they control their own destiny. If they can manage to win their final three games against Cincinnati, Syracuse, and West Virginia, the sky is the limit. At worst, the Scarlett Knights would represent the Big East in a BCS-bowl. At best, if the voters in the human polls are impressed enough, they could receive a trip to Glendale to play in the BCS Championship.
For the Big East, Rutgers is now in the driver's seat. If WVU and Rutgers win their remaining games, a virtual Big East championship game will likely be played on December 2nd, when the Scarlett Knights travel to Morgantown to play the Mountaineers. If Rutgers wins that game, they would be the outright Big East Champion. If West Virginia wins that game, there could (provided Louisville does not lose again) be a three-way tie between Louisville, Rutgers, and West Virginia with each having just one-loss. In that case, the highest ranked team in the BCS standings, likely West Virginia thanks to their high preseason ranking, would earn the BCS bowl bid, with a likely trip to the Orange Bowl.
As for the BCS Championship, if you have watched ESPN or read any sports publication in the last three weeks, you have certainly already heard the cases for the half-dozen or so one-loss teams around the nation. Texas, Florida, Auburn, California, Southern California, Arkansas, and Notre Dame--all of whom are strangely tied together in a "Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon"-type of way, will vie, along with a still undefeated Rutgers to play the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game on November 18th. There will be attrition along the way, as some of those one-loss teams will lose to one another, but the most interesting thing to watch now will be how high Rutgers, who already has a high computer composite ranking, will climb in the human polls.