2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - NC Central at Rutgers
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Sept. 1 at Rutgers 48 … NC Central 0
CFN Analysis: After a down year, Rutgers needed to come out and blow someone away. Beating NC Central isn't any big deal, but still, it was a cathartic moment that showed off some of the great young talents. Savon Huggins only ran for 32 yards and averaged 3.2 yards per carry, but he showed a spark in the red zone. The defense was phenomenal at getting behind the line, coming up with nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss, with the wealth spread around, and the front seven was swarming like it was a few years ago. It would be nice if Gary Nova was a little sharper throwing the ball, but Chas Dodd was decent in his little bit of time. Going forward, the quarterbacks have to be more accurate after combining to complete 15-of-34 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns with a pick.
(AP) PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Highly touted freshman Savon Huggins ran for two touchdowns and Rutgers started making amends for a disastrous 2010 season with a 48-0 victory over North Carolina Central on Thursday night.
Chas Dodd added a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu late in the first half. The Scarlet Knights' defense then broke the game open in the third quarter when tackle Scott Vallone recovered a fumble in the end zone and Duron Harmon returned an interception 37 yards for another score in a 45-second span.
Backup quarterback Gary Nova later tossed a 44-yard TD pass to Brandon Coleman and San San Te added two field goals for Rutgers, which finished 4-8 in 2010.
North Carolina Central turned the ball over four times, was limited to 120 yards and sacked nine times in Henry Frazier's debut as coach.
The season-opening shutout was the second straight for Rutgers, and it was the biggest shutout win in a season opener since a 66-0 romp over Ursinus in 1918.
This one wasn't unexpected. North Carolina Central was coming off a 3-8 season and it was playing in its first Football Championship Subdivision game.
The exciting thing for Rutgers of the Big East was seeing its anemic offense gain 347 yards and the play of Huggins, who was the most recruited player in New Jersey last year after rushing for 1,891 yards and 35 touchdowns at St. Peter's Prep.
Huggins only gained 32 yards on 10 carries, but he seemed to wake up the team and the crowd with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter after coming off the bench. He ran 7 yards around the right end with 8:58 left in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead that seemed to send Rutgers on its way.
Dodd hooked up with Sanu late in the first half to extend the lead to 21 points and then the defense, which had 17 sacks all last season, took over in the third quarter.
Eagles quarterback Michael Johnson was sacked by David Milewski in the end zone, knocking the ball loose. Vallone jumped on it for a 28-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, Harmon made his second interception of the game and followed a convoy of red-shirted teammates down the right sideline for a 35-0 lead.
Nova added his TD pass to Coleman about two minutes later and the worst team in the Big East was home free against their foes from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Dodd finished 9 of 17 for 113 yards and an interception. Johnson was 10 of 25 for 88 yards with two picks.
North Carolina Central (0-0) at Rutgers (0-0)
Sept. 1, 7:30, ESPN3.com
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Here's The Deal … These are odd and troubling times for Greg Schiano. The dean of Big East head coaches is coming off a dreadful 4-8 campaign that dumped his Scarlet Knights into the conference cellar. Worse yet, Rutgers will begin 2011 with the expectation that it'll remain in the basement for at least one more season. The program has slipped behind the likes of Connecticut, Louisville and even Syracuse, and with TCU arriving in 2012, that coveted title and BCS bowl game never seemed so far away. The Knights get a reprieve from reality for at least one week with a visit from North Carolina Central. The Eagles went 3-8 a year ago, their first at the FCS level, and have been scorched in their only two games versus FBS opponents. The program brought in the right man to help with the rebuilding plan, Henry Frazier, who was the architect of Prairie View A&M's unlikely transformation.
Why North Carolina Central Might Win: The Eagles welcome back 13 starters, including eight on offense. Unlike the past few seasons, depth doesn't figure to be as much of an issue in Durham. The sparkplugs will be fifth-year senior QB Michael Johnson and top receiving target Geovonie Irvine. North Carolina Central will be trying to solve a Scarlet Knights defense that's going to have problems mounting a pass rush and defending the airways. If given time to check down, Johnson has the experience and savvy to keep the chains moving in the team's new West Coast attack.
Why Rutgers Might Win: The Knights are excited about this year's skill position players, who'll be on full display Thursday evening. The program boasts an ideal blend of speed, size and explosiveness to complement second-year starting QB Chas Dodd. On the ground, Jeremy Deering, De'Antwan Williams and blue-chip recruit Savon Huggins all have game-breaking potential. Through the air, Dodd can choose between fleet-footed Mohammed Sanu and H-back-sized Mark Harrison. Rutgers is going to flood the Eagles with as much raw physical ability as it's seen in years. Central's D just doesn't have the personnel to withstand this much Big East talent.
What To Watch Out For: The game doesn't figure to be competitive for very long, which is one more reason for the fans in Piscataway to focus their attention on Huggins. The local recruit, who had offers from the likes of Notre Dame, USC and Auburn, has already been turning heads with his toughness, vision and patience in the hole. Although listed at No. 2, Deering has been slowed this summer by a concussion. Given a chance to shine, he's capable of making quite a splash in his college debut.
What Will Happen: Rutgers won't get many opportunities to bully other teams this season, so it figures to enjoy every moment of Thursday's blowout win. The visit from a second-tier FCS squad allows Frank Cignetti to further install a pro-style offense designed to wear down the other guys. The Scarlet Knights will run circles around the Eagles defense before tapping on the brakes late in the third quarter.
CFN Prediction: Rutgers 49 … North Carolina Central 6
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