Week 12 Feature Game
#22 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-1, 4-0) at Cincinnati Bearcats (7-2, 3-1)
Saturday, November 17 • Noon ET • Big East Network
Nippert Stadium • Cincinnati, Ohio
Rutgers at Cincinnati is the only matchup among Big East Conference members in Week 12.
Though two of the longest standing programs in the history of college football, Rutgers (est. 1869) and Cincinnati (est. 1885) have met just 17 times. The first game between the two schools was played in 1980 and each team holds an 8-8-1 series record, though in Big East Conference play, the Bearcats hold a 5-2 edge. Rutgers is 1-6-1 all-time at Cincinnati, with the lone win (10-7) coming in 1987. Rutgers’ 20-3 win last year over Cincinnati in Piscataway, N.J., ended a five-game winning streak for the Bearcats.
For Rutgers, the game has huge implications. The team would improve to 9-1 overall, its best start since 2006 (9-1), and move to 5-0 in the Big East for the first time in school history. Also, Kyle Flood would become the only head coach in Rutgers’ history to win nine games in his first season. Most importantly, it would keep the Scarlet Knights in the driver’s seat for their first conference championship. RU controls its own destiny: wins at Cincinnati, at Pitt, and in the season finale at home against Louisville means Rutgers goes BCS bowling. Wins in two of its last three games ensures RU of a share of the Big East crown.
The Scarlet Knights are undefeated on the road this season (4-0), but is just 4-25 all-time in Big East road games in November. The last time RU won a November conference game on the road was in 2009 at Louisville.
Their chances in Cincinnati were hurt last week against Army with an injury to running back Jawan Jamison, who ranks 24th nationally and second in the Big East with 105.9 rushing yards per game. He is just 47 yards short of a 1,000-yard season. On the other side of the ball, Rutgers’ defense has allowed just 13.4 points per game and only 41 total in four Big East games this season (13 vs. USF, 3 vs. UConn, 15 vs. Syracuse, and 10 vs. Temple).
Entering the game, Cincinnati leads the Big East in scoring offense (34.2) and rushing offense (226.8) while ranking second in total offense (455.6), interceptions (9), fewest sacks allowed (8), sacks (23), and opponent third down conversions (.367). The team is third in rushing defense (129.2) and scoring defense (18.8). Individually, George Winn leads in the conference rushing average (108.9). He is tied for second in touchdowns scored (9), while Ralph David Abernathy ranks third in all-purpose yards (130.9).
The Bearcats have run for 200 or more yards in seven games and scored at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season. Last week at Temple, quarterback Brendon Kay made his first start, completing 13 of 21 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Winn finished with 20 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns – his fourth multiple touchdown game of 2012.
Cincinnati will be playing its seventh consecutive game without a bye. Last week the Bearcats used 68 players at Temple, a season high.
With a victory against Rutgers, and two more wins to finish the season, the Bearcats would clinch at least a share of their third Big East Championship in the last five years.
Line: Cincinnati (-6.5)
Pick: Rutgers 24-20
Big East Power Rankings:
1. Louisville (9-1, 4-1) #20
2. Rutgers (8-1, 4-0) #22
3. Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1)
4. Syracuse (5-5, 4-2)
5. Pitt (4-6, 1-4)
6. Temple (3-6, 2-4)
7. UConn (4-6, 1-4)
8. USF (3-6, 1-4)
Other Big East Week 12 games:
Temple at Army (-3.5)
USF at Miami (-6.5)
Syracuse at Mizzou (-6.5)
Big East Week 11 Recap
Pitt 17 at UConn 24
Cincinnati 34 at Temple 10
Louisville 26 at Syracuse 45
Army 7 at Rutgers 28
Conference Players of Week 11:
Offense: Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse
Defense: Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
Special Teams: Nick Williams, WR, UConn
Pete Sonski is a contributor to College Football Zealots. Follow him on Twitter @29sonski and check out his work at Big East Coast Bias. and his Three Point Stance show every Tuesday at 9 PM on Blog Talk Radio.