Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-0) 4:00 p.m. EST, Monday, September 7th 2009 Rutgers Stadium Piscataway, New Jersey TV: ESPN
By Jason Green of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cincinnati +5 vs. Rutgers -5
In a tough opening game for both teams the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers host the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The crowd at Rutgers will be louder in this game, as they have added 11,000 seats to Rutgers Stadium and they are the favorites to win the Big East, while Cincinnati is predicted to finish in the middle of the pack.
Rather than playing a cream puff early season schedule these teams get right into Big East play. Last season Cincinnati won the Big East and the Bearcats beat the Scarlet Knights 13-10. Rutgers can get off to a good start to the season and the conference season with a home win. They surely do not want to get off to a start like last season when they began with a 1-5 start before ending the season on fire going 8-5. The last loss Rutgers sustained was to these very same Cincinnati Bearcats last season so some they will surely have revenge on their minds.
The Scarlet Knights are the home favorites in this game and even though the Bearcats are 5-12 straight up being an away underdog in the last 5 years they have covered the spread in 10 of those 17 games.
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The basic match up that will determine the outcome of this game will be the Bearcats’ offense against the Scarlet Knights’ defense.
Tony Pike returns as the QB of Cincinnati along with 7 other mates on offense. In last season’s contest between these two teams Pike was injured and did not play. The Rutgers secondary will have their hands full on Sunday afternoon with Pike and a solid Bearcats’ WR corps that returns Mardy Gilyard, who last season had 1276 yards receiving and 11 TD’s.
Pike is a legit QB, as last season he threw for 2407 yards and had 19 TD’s and 11 INT’s, but he missed a couple games due to injury.
The Bearcats’ offensive line is experienced and the Cincinnati running game should be better this season, as Jake Ramsey is the #1 RB, but they also have John Goebel, Pead and Darrin Williams who well get some carries as well.
The Solid Rutgers D is led by LB Ryan D’Imperio, who may be a 1st team Big East pick if he plays up to expectations. The leading tackler returning is DL Alex Silvestro. These two guys will have to pressure and force Pike to make hurried decisions otherwise Rutgers could potentially face a defeat on their home turf. Since the Bearcats are so solid at the WR position there will be a lot of pressure on the Rutgers’ secondary. Brandon Bing and Devin McCourty will have to play good defense and not allow the speedy Bearcats’ receivers to get open.
The Bearcats’ will open up their playbook more this season on offense and the Scarlet Knights have to be ready for any tricks Pike pulls out of his bag. Pike has to avoid throwing the INT in this game, as if he does the Bearcats should be able to move the chains fairly regularly.
The reason the Bearcats are only predicted to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big East is because they only return one starter on defense. However, the Bearcats’ secondary is legit led by sole returning starter S Aaron Webster. The front line D is all new starters and that is a concern this season for Cincinnati and maybe an overrated variable at that.
Michigan State transfer Domenic Natale should get the
nod for Rutgers at QB, but Jabu Lovelace should get some snaps and run the
Wildcat offense, which the Bearcats have to prepare for.
Jourdan Brooks is a big and bruising back for the Scarlet Knights and he will have to pick up some big yards to take the pressure off the QB. The inexperienced Bearcats’ DL has to get to Brooks near or behind the line of scrimmage and not allow him to have a big game. That will not be easy, as Rutgers has a huge offensive line that returns several starters.
If Brooks can move the chains it will slow down the game and keep the dynamic offense of the Bearcats on the sidelines, which definitely favors Rutgers. The key for the Bearcats in this game is stopping the run, as if they can do that it gives them a great chance to win this game.
WR Kenny Britt is now in the NFL, but the Rutgers team still has talented WR’s in Tim Brown and a freshman with a lot of promise, Mohamed Sanu.
Jason’s Pick: Cincinnati has beaten Rutgers in the last 3 years and I see that streak being stopped this year. Rutgers should be able to run the ball and that will prove to be the difference, however, with a 5 point spread my choice is for the Bearcats to get the cover. Take the +5 points and expect a very hard fought, competitive game that is decided by a field goal.