It wasn't pretty, but when it was finally over, the Scarlet Knights left Nippert Stadium with a 10-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats to keep their hopes for a Big East title alive.
Two turnovers and seven penalties by Rutgers helped to keep the Cincinnati in the game, as the Scarlet Knights rolled up 19 first downs and 420 total yards on the afternoon, which normally would translate to a commanding lead. Instead, the Knights once again had to rely on their defense to continually bail them out as it held Cincinnati scoreless until a Tony Miliano field goal put the Bearcats on the board with 11 seconds remaining in the contest.
Rutgers QB Gary Nova was a very pedestrian 11-of-19 for 186 yards, and while he had a touchdown pass, his two interceptions were drive-killers. The lone touchdown in the game was Nova's TD pass to Mark Harrison, whose four receptions for 106 yards led all receivers in the game.
Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison attempted to make himself available, but while his four rushing attempts for 37 yards was admirable, his lack of playing time was not due to his injured ankle as much as it was due to the career day of backup running back Savon Huggins. Huggins was the RU workhorse, carrying the ball 41 times for a whopping 179 yards. Prior to Saturday's game, Huggins had only had 165 yards for the entire season.
Huggins' time at Rutgers has been something of a disappointment since coming in as a 5-star recruit (per Scout.com) in 2011. Injuries have plagued his time in Piscataway, but not as much as the success of first-stringer Jawan Jamison.
"I seized my opportunity and I did my job,” said Huggins (as quoted by Kevin Goheen of The Star-Ledger on NJ.com). “The more carries I get, the better I get."
The strength of Huggins' performance helped the Scarlet Knights control the clock for over 37 minutes in the game as they continued to work towards their announced preseason goal of a conference championship. Incredibly, when it seems that Rutgers is on the verge of it's first-ever Big East title comes the news that they will be jumping to the Big 10 Conference in 2014.
But well before then, the Scarlet Knights must first turn their attention to the Pitt Panthers, who will host the Scarlet Knights this upcoming weekend. The victory over Cincinnati helped boost Rutgers to No. 18 in the BCS standings on a weekend that saw the both Kansas State and Oregon tumble from the top spots.